As today is Oprah Winfrey’s 64th birthday, I thought I’d weigh in on whether she should run for president.

Well, absolutely. Of course. Why not?

Oprah, as most of us know, recently received the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globe Awards ceremony, where she gave a speech about racial inequality, sexual harassment and freedom of the press. She is the first black woman to be given the award, named for the famous director of films including “The Ten Commandments.”

Her speech was heartfelt and compelling, but when people in the days following the ceremony were touting her as a possible presidential candidate, I didn’t think much about it.

During a discussion about Oprah’s speech with my colleagues, some espoused her virtues, saying she’d be a good leader of the free world.

“But she has had no political experience,” I said.

One of my co-workers opined, however, that Oprah listens, she’s smart, she has made a lot of money and besides, President Donald Trump also had no political experience before running for president.

Since then, my thinking on this subject has evolved.

Is it necessary that a president have political experience? Is it necessary that a president be a man? We might think so, considering we’ve never had a woman in that seat.

Likely there are lots of women who are capable and qualified, and isn’t it time?

There’s a revolution happening now as women speak out about the men who have abused or harassed them. People are listening and taking their stories seriously.

What qualifications does one need to be taken seriously as a presidential candidate?

Intelligence is a priority, I think, and the ability to listen, negotiate, think critically, be flexible, inclusive, tolerant and diplomatic.

I suspect Oprah and others have all that and more. Though she has not said definitively that she would run for president and there are reports that she has rejected the idea, Oprah is business-savvy and wise. She is a billionaire with financial sense. She’s charitable and no doubt would surround herself with good people who could get the work done.

Beyond that, I don’t think she’s the type to offend or turn the world against us, start wars or meddle in other countries’ business.

Yes, she is a Hollywood star, but so were Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump, and we have had plenty of opportunity over the years to watch how she operates. She’s popular with both Republicans and Democrats and likely would be a shoo-in, if she were on the ballot.

Whenever I profess it’s time we had a woman president, people typically say it’s not a woman or a man thing and we should not elect a woman just because she’s a woman — that the best candidate should win.

True, but consider that here we are in 2018 and can’t claim one female president in all of our 45. We’re just now removing men from prominent positions because they abused women. That should be enough to proclaim it’s time we elected a qualified female.

Yes, it’s been an evolution, and one that should not have had to occur in the first place. Slavery was abolished, and much later blacks and women finally were allowed to do things and go places only white men were privileged to do and go — including the voting booth.

I imagine it must be difficult for a man to understand fully why women might want to see a female become president. I’m sure we whites likely did not fully understand the elation blacks felt when Barack Obama was elected.

In the interest of fairness and humanity, we ought to be thinking about female candidates for the next presidential election. It’s still three years away, but it’s going to come fast.

In Maine, both Republicans and Democrats are ensuring women have the opportunity to learn how to run for office.

Rep. Ellie Espling, R-New Gloucester, tells me women have been training with SHE Leads, a fairly new Maine Republican Party program that identifies, trains and supports Republican women to be political leaders.

“Last election cycle all the Republican women incumbents who ran in the general election won, and we picked up a few more seats with Republican women candidates,” says Espling, House assistant minority leader. “Several of our current legislators have done some sort of training. I like to say when Republican women run, they win. Its getting them to run that can be a challenge.”

SHE Leads brings Republican women together, which encourages them and gives them support in making a decision to run, she said. “That seems to make all the difference when a woman is considering running.”

The Maine Democratic Party over the past several years has enlisted the help of Emerge Maine to help train women, including Sarah Gideon, of Freeport, who now is speaker of the House; House Majority Leader Erin Herbig, of Belfast; and Sen. Shenna Bellows, of Manchester.

Katie Mae Simpson, executive director of the Maine Democratic Party, tells me the Democratic caucus in Maine is now more than 40 percent women and she attributes that in large part to Emerge Maine’s work.

“The Democratic Party is committed to having representation at the table, and Emerge Maine has given hundreds of women the training opportunity to run for office — people who might otherwise not have had the tools and confidence to run,” Simpson said.

Electing a female president may be just what we need to heal some wounds, help assuage ill feelings that have developed against the U.S. and begin expending more energy on important work.

I can think of many women whose husbands or spouses would be good and appropriate ambassadors for the country, including Oprah’s long-time companion, Stedman Graham, who seems like a decent guy and would serve as a fine first man.

I’m not saying Oprah is the perfect choice, but I say we might hit two birds with one stone if we elect a black and female president. Someone with Oprah’s temperament, smarts and popularity could stir a movement.

We could do, and have done, a lot worse.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 30 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to

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