Oprah: The lat­est ‘Mes­siah’?

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Opinion - Cal Thomas Con­tact Cal Thomas at tcaed­i­tors@tribpub.com.

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

Politi­cians, and even some celebri­ties, pro­mote de­pen­dence on gov­ern­ment, not sel­f­re­liance, be­cause it in­creases their power.

“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.

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