Will a black president make America great again?

Published: February 7, 2018

If the next US President ends up being an African-American woman, it would cap a long struggle to empower women and liberate white America from its dark past.

After this year’s Golden Globe Awards, an overwhelming number of tweets and op-eds acclaimed Oprah Winfrey as a possible candidate for the 2020 US Presidential Election. It was indeed a justified reaction to her powerful acceptance speech, which sounded strong, optimistic and very presidential. Not to be outdone by a woman, President Donald Trump immediately responded to this media reaction by suggesting that while fighting an election against Oprah would be fun, he would beat her.

No matter what one’s opinion on the possibility of Oprah 2020, it does bring several questions to mind. Would such a presidency do America any good, after witnessing the struggles of the Obama administration? What are America’s intentions behind the support she is being offered? And lastly, would her candidacy be able to recover the American ideals that have been wounded by the Trump presidency?

It would not be out of the blue to suggest that another black president could be white liberal America’s great dream when it comes to laying its slaving past to rest; something that could not be done during the eight-year tenure of Barack Obama. If, despite Oprah’s disclaimer, the possibility of her as a presidential candidate ever blossoms into a political reality that wiggles her into the White House, it will launder the residue of slave trading that still clings to America’s coattails. It will also significantly enhance the US’s moral stature in the world, which is currently threatened by the events taking place under the Trump presidency.

Oprah’s achievements thus far might be unchallengeable, but her political credentials are a blank canvas in waiting. Back in the day, her sponsorship and support had significantly facilitated Obama’s candidacy. Thus, if Oprah 2020 does become a political reality, Obama will undoubtedly return the favour and mentor her through it. At the moment, one can only wonder if this campaign is just America and the world trying to keep a positive outlook in light of Trump, or whether it is something to which Oprah herself might have tacitly or unwittingly approved of. But to suggest that the support she is receiving is an expression of Americans simply seeking a black president would, on its own, rightly be considered offensive, were it not for Obama.

His brilliance and aptitude notwithstanding, he was ushered in by white America’s simmering ambition to launder its slaving past. Put next to Oprah, Obama is the half-empty glass perceived half-full by many Americans. He was, and still is, considered to be black, not biracial or half-white. As president, his legacy, which includes Obamacare and a foreign policy based on compassion and dialogue, has ensured his place in history. Obama also recovered some of the moral high ground that President George W Bush had lost after starting two baseless wars, while his election set the precedent for an African-American descendant of slaves to eventually assume the highest office of the most powerful nation in the world.

Obama’s detractors cite the number of unarmed black suspects killed with impunity by the police, and the collateral damage from targeted drone attacks, without realising that the American president has no direct jurisdiction in either matter. Furthermore, the Pew Research Centre found that most African-Americans realised the extent and dimensions of racism once Obama became president. So, while white Americans might have been congratulating themselves for electing a half-black president, African-Americans have to, by default, face the stark reality of continuing racism in their country.

Whether or not white Americans feel that by electing Obama they have vindicated their slaving past and do not need to repeat the gesture, remains to be seen. And if the next US president ends up being an African-American woman, it would cap a long struggle to empower women and liberate white America from its dark past.

However, this is easier said than done.

Voters who ensured Trump’s victory do not have the same vision of America as Obama’s supporters did. Yet, both these distinct visions tend to overlap and jostle each other on common ground, with the mechanisms of America’s political system allowing each side its chance. Yet, neither side was able to fully exploit its opportunity, with enduring checks and balances being the ultimate winner. What will ultimately tip the balance is perhaps Trump himself – his flailing domestic and foreign policies could be what cause him to lose the re-election. The Russia investigation, the cold war with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, taking back the Iran nuclear deal, and withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement, are just some of the notable political detonators, while others lurk beneath the surface to do unpredictable mischief in the future.

By 2020, perhaps Trump’s supporters will have whittled down and will be seeking an alternative champion. Alternatively, his support base might be so strengthened by then that no mainstream opponent would stand a chance. The way things stand, no one can predict what will happen. Even the result of the mid-term congressional elections, due in November this year, will not be able to forecast the 2020 election campaign, let alone its result.

The juiciest and most tantalising scenario remains one where Oprah could really become president. In 2016, American voters, with a 90% literacy rate, managed to elect a brash real-estate magnate and reality star as their president. If Oprah contests the election, there is no logical reason to suppose that she would have a lesser chance than Trump did in the last election.

After all, George Weah, a mediagenic retired football star, ultimately ended up becoming the President of Liberia, Africa’s first and oldest modern republic. If Liberia, whose existence can be credited to white America’s need to settle freed slaves and assuage white guilt, can elect a media icon in a free and fair election, America can do the same. Thus, while Oprah may not contest the elections – and even if she does, she may not win – but she does seem like the biggest hope at the moment to put some lifelong demons within America itself to rest.

Azam Gill

Azam Gill

The author is a novelist, analyst and retired Lecturer from Toulouse University. He served in the French Foreign Legion, French Navy and the Punjab Regiment. He has authored nine books. He blogs at writegill.com/

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • cuban

    Author must have been sleeping when Oprah made statement saying she had zero interest in running for President.Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    Oprah is going anywhere near running for President after commenting that all old white people need to die off!Recommend

  • candy

    It’s rather pathetic that right now the Democrats have nobody that could beat the unpopular Trump – says much. Old bodies like Pelosi, Schumer etc need to retire and make room for some new blood – new ideas. Btw – Oprah has made an announcement that she has no interest in running for President – that’s good because she has zero chance of defeating Trump.Recommend

  • Parvez

    This article is very premature …. the Democrats need to up their game from now if they want to regain control in 2024.Recommend

  • Azam Gill

    Two years is long enough for a change of mind, common in such cases and at such levels!Recommend

  • zafars

    After the drubbing Trump gave Obama and Hillary, its is unlikely that a colored guy let alone a woman will be considered by the American people for decades.Recommend

  • Keyboard Soldier

    I, a nobody, have a better chance of defeating Oprah in the primaries; forget about Mr. Trump.

    As for the Black president to make America great again; there are better chances for a Latino in the near future.Recommend

  • gs

    Ah, we all forget that most of the democracies in the world are run by Mafiosi. Quite a few U.S Presidents tried to give the people of the USA a State financed Health System . Yet could not do so. Why? The Mafia will not allow the President what he wanted to do. Obama ordered the closer of a crime scene – the kidnapped peoples’ camp, yet it is still open. Why? The Mafia will not allow it. Who allows the Mafia to exist and rule over them? The people. True?
    The people everywhere, have been advised by many philosophers and thinkers to organise their own Mafia i.e. Peoples’ Union. Do we see people anywhere in the world to be coming out to organise their Peoples’ Union to rid themselves of slavery at the hands of Mafiosi? No we do not. So why would the Mafiosi not rule over the people?

  • Patwari

    That must be a dream sequence, where you saw a racist
    misogynist, 5 times a day liar, mentally unstable,Trump
    give Obama and Hillary a drubbing.
    Pray, do tell us, when and where did this happen. Fox News?Recommend

  • Patwari

    Not only that, she is not a politician with glib tongue, or with the
    ability to say nothing, in 50 sentences and 80 statements, which
    is the forte of an average politician, worldwide.
    She is a very down to earth, humble person, with a gift to articulate,
    without using smoke and mirrors.

  • Patwari

    Might be so in the Land of the Bastille, Charles de Gaulle,
    Marshal Petain, Marine Le Pen and truffles.
    With Eric Holder, Joe Biden contemplating a run, Trumpism is on it’s last legs. Like a bad nightmare.Recommend

  • Patwari

    No. Wrong. She did not say that. Some one said that
    in an interview during an on going protest against
    discrimination and the Republican Party, which is 97%
    composed of old white males. Or WASP [White Anglo
    Saxon Protestant] middle aged or old men.
    There are hardly any minorities, ethnic or religious, in the
    Republican Party.
    Only minority that support the Republicans and Trump are
    the majority US based Hindustanis and Bharati supporters
    of the Modi Govt. Who are ecstatic at Nimrata Haley and
    Trump’s diatribes against Muslims and Pakland.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Unfortunately, your favorite, Trump,
    will not be anywhere near a political
    campaign in 2020…..not 2024 as you
    stipulate. Because he will not win the
    Republican nomination a second time.
    Sorry to dash your hopes. But there
    are enough Nazis, Alt Right, KKK,
    Misogynists, White Supremacists, Aryan
    Nations, to put up another candidate.Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    Hmm, recall that Hillary, with extensive support from Obama, LOST to Trump in the 2016 presidential elections!Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    Gifted enough to say that all old white people need to die off?Recommend

  • Parvez

    Ha, ha…… lets hope you’re right.
    I remember a couple of months before the elections I was in the US and had a lively discussion with two ( lawyer and a professor ) very staunch Democrats …. and they could not even perceive of Trump winning. So when I told them there was a vast body of people in America whose mentality and thinking resonates with Trump….they absolutely did not agree with me. One year later, when I asked, they were still in denial.
    I again say lets hope you’re right because this time around was the first time in over 50 years that I opted out of visiting the US.Recommend

  • A_A KhAn

    What people, Americans in this case, don’t understand that it not the colour of the president’s skin that is going to make America great again, it’s whether he has the education, knowledge, right intentions and experience in this field, and will use the status and power in such a way where all social groups, citizens, tourists, and the public in general benefit from the president.Recommend

  • Patwari

    The point is, and that includes, several ongoing
    investigations, into the Trump saga. These include
    “collusion with Russia, Russian interference in 2016
    elections in the US,Russian hacking into 21 states voter
    rolls, including,electronic ballot machines”… and on and
    on it goes.
    Hope that helps you in understanding crux of the matter.
    In this case, a learned professor or a shyster’s opinions are
    tantamount to, well, thin air.Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    Too bad for you that Trump approved the sanctions congress overwhelmingly supported last summer!