The ancient Greeks referred to the dramatic moment in some of their plays as "deus ex machina," the god from the machine. The term, introduced by the Greek tragedian Aeschylus, has, according to definition, "evolved to mean a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly resolved by the inspired and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability or object."
This concept of an outside deliverer has reappeared in American culture from time to time, most notably through superheroes like "Superman," "Batman," "Wonder Woman" and "The Force" in the "Star Wars" saga.
It has also invaded politics, most notably with Barack Obama, on whom his devoted disciples, and the media, conveyed messianic status. Now comes a bigger star than President Trump, the Queen of Talk herself, Oprah Winfrey.
At the Golden Globes last Sunday night, Winfrey was given the honorary Cecil B. DeMille Award for her contributions "to the world of entertainment," which, if the reaction to her rousing speech about sexual harassment and a new day for girls and women in America can be judged, may have been premature. Bigger achievements may be yet to come.
According to some Hollywood liberals and Democrats across the country, Oprah is a superhero, a god, the answer to their prayers of deliverance. To fans, it appears she is even more powerful than the Obama locomotive, and far more compelling than The One who parted the Red Sea or resurrected the dead.
This notion that a cultural or political figure can do more for us than we can do for ourselves would have been foreign to the Puritans who settled the colonies and to our Founding Fathers who created our nation. Self-reliance, not reliance on others, especially government, was their creed.
Hard work, a good education, thrift and living within one's means, not envying others, were among the beliefs lived and promoted by the Puritans. Modernists have discarded that list and replaced it with envy, greed and entitlement, along with a reliance on government to make their lives better. That day never seems to arrive, but their faith in outside forces to deliver them remains strong.
A blogger named Col Gurnam Singh writes: "Self-reliance is the parent of many virtues. The self-reliant man is patient and persevering. He does not envy others, nor does he think of begging favours of others. He faces his misfortune with a quiet courage. Therefore (Ralph Waldo) Emerson calls self-reliance 'the essence of heroism,' 'the first secret of success' -- the self-reliant man feels neither fear nor shame to labor with his own hands, if necessary. He is always learning new lessons, gathering valuable experience. His example is an inspiration and his achievement is an example to others. This confidence in himself wins him the confidence of others."
Are Democrats so desperate for power that they would nominate Oprah Winfrey for president in 2020? Wouldn't that negate all of their criticism of the current "celebrity president"? Would Oprah do better with the economy? As a woman of the left, it is unlikely she would reduce the size and cost of government through employee attrition and cutting unnecessary regulations, allow the military to actually fight and defeat enemies, grow the stock market and nominate judges who adhere to the Constitution.
Politicians, and even some celebrities, promote dependence on government, not self-reliance, because it increases their power. Unfortunately, in too many cases, while their power increases, yours decreases by way of higher taxes, greater debt and more regulations on business and individuals. No politician or celebrity can make anyone's life better. If they could, they would have done so by now.
People who look to Washington and Hollywood for deliverance are always disappointed in the end. It is the ultimate tragedy of misplaced faith and there is no "god from the machine" capable of making such a tragedy end well.
(Readers may email Cal Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org.)