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Don't run, Oprah. Teach!

By Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

Must we turn to the world of show business to find those qualities? Or should both parties turn back with renewed gusto to the idea of developing their own talent from the ranks of rising political hopefuls who have a little something called experience in politics and governing?

Among the reasons why she should not run is the inevitable backlash. As soon as you declare your partisanship as a popular public figure, you're bound to lose about lose about 40 percent of the public.

And that's not limited to your opposition party. Oprah's speech sparked a Twitter debate between the left's many factions who questioned whether she was far left and anti-establishment enough to energize the Democratic base -- as if Trump's trashing of Republican norms have not already exposed the hazards and folly of extremism in party ranks.

But as appealing as a battle of the media titans might seem for 2020, it could also put us closer to the nightmare envisioned by Neil Postman in his 1984 classic "Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business."

While many of us feared the "Big Brother" vision of George Orwell's "1984," Postman wrote that we should be even more concerned about the deceptively appealing vision of Aldous Hurley's "Brave New World." While Orwell feared those who would ban books, Postman wrote, Huxley feared that "there would be no reason to ban a book for there would be no one who wanted to read one."

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At least, Oprah, who was just rising to national fame with her Chicago-based talk show when Postman's book came out, decided to use her powers for literary good. "Oprah's Book Club" defied conventions by using the power of television to encourage more reading of fine literature.

I love Oprah so much that I don't think she should run for president. She's too good for that. There are other rising talents people in the Democratic Party who can do the job of being president of the United States. Their fellow Democrats need to help them rise up and develop their White House potential and, as Oprah advises, develop their "best self."

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(E-mail Clarence Page at cpage@chicagotribune.com.)

(c) 2018 CLARENCE PAGE DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
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