America has had its magical thinking celebrity billionaires-endorsed President. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time for something different.
✎ Wayne K. Spear | March 1, 2018 • Politics
THERE’S A FRESH ENTRY this week on the familiar ledger of billionaire celebrities the media can’t quite seem to leave alone, but probably should, and it goes like this:
Amid calls for her to consider a run for the White House — from fans as well as her closest friends — “I went into prayer,” she tells PEOPLE in the magazine’s new cover story.“ ‘God, if you think I’m supposed to run, you gotta tell me, and it has to be so clear that not even I can miss it.’ And I haven’t gotten that.”
I can’t sort out whether this article, tellingly titled “Faith, Weight, The White House, & More,” clarifies the question, or if we’re now in murkier waters. A clear sign from God? What, exactly, would that be—and who is to decide? You must have noticed, as I have, that God rarely discourages political ambition and will often encourage a half-dozen narcissists to chase a prize. Presumably all were given “a sign,” whether clouds in the coffee, an auspicious horoscope, a random passage of a book taken from the shelf, or something felt in the gut. As we’ve long known, pretty much every potential candidate who consults God is special and deserving and will make a first-rate Senator or Governor or President, or whatever. So Oprah’s gambit may be a done deal, after all.
Or perhaps the Almighty jests, but at whose expense? He gave us Roy Moore, who not only ran by holy counsel but refused to concede defeat. “What we’ve got to do,” Moore told supporters, “is wait on God and let this process play out.” God gave us Presidents Scott Walker and Ben Carson and Rick Perry and Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee and Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. “I am certain,” President Scott Walker told an audience. “This is God’s plan for me and I am humbled to be a candidate for President of the United States.” President Ben Carson said he would run “if God grabbed him by the collar and asked him to.” President Rick Perry hoped to see a burning bush, but decided in the end that “God sends messages through a lot of ways.” In Perry’s case, the way was the wife, who claimed to see a burning bush on his behalf and ordered him to run.
These career politicians have one thing in common: a regard of their self-promotion as part of a grand, eternal design crafted in the Beginning by an onmiscient and all-powerful Being. How nice it must be to figure in The Plan in this way. Billions of years ago, The Lord God Almighty willed that President Rand Paul would one day prevent gun control legislation, and shortly after uttering the words “Let there be light,” Yahweh ensured that men would lie only with women, and vice versa, and that President Ted Cruz would make it so. Between the stars and the planets, I AM THAT I AM brainstormed an impediment to embryonic stem cell research, under President Mike Huckabee. Should Oprah run? We may soon learn that there’s a heavenly plan for that, too.
Divine warrant gives us the nauseating comingling of arrogance and humility that every aspirant to political office seems to have mastered, but most conspicuosly the humble servants of God. It’s never Would I Run, it’s always should I, “should” (like its cousin, supposed to) being a word that drips with the sugar of practical and moral necessity. If it’s clear signs you’re after, nothing is clearer than the fact that there are no shoulds, and no supposeds, in politics. Just ask President Michele Bachmann, one of the few people who has prayed for a sign in recent years, to replace Al Franken, and not (yet) received it.
And while we’re on the topic of clear signs: Oprah’s deference to “going into prayer” is yet another indication that she’s not fit for office. It isn’t God that’s been speaking to her, brothers and sisters, it’s the billionaires’ club, and we’ve been there seen that, too. America has had its magical thinking celebrity prayers-and-billionaires-endorsed President. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time for something different.