Donald Trump ran and won in 2016 without government experience, citing his reputation as a successful businessman and developer as his qualification to lead the United States.
Regardless of anyone's views on Mr. Trumps actual business acumen, it became clear that the prospect of a nonpolitical businessman leading the country was appealing to a vast portion of the electorate.
If the Democrats choose to challenge Mr. Trump with a businessman--perhaps even a great entrepreneur--of their own in 2020, who could they choose from?
Bezos has a claim as the best businessman in the United States. The founder of Amazon, he has built the world's largest logistics company and disrupted dozens of billion dollar industries in the process since the mid-1990s. No one understands better than Bezos how the American worker has been, and increasingly will be, displaced by technology and automation, and no one may be better placed to offer strategies to combat it. He has also developed an interest in political discourse in recent years with his high-profile purchase of the Washington Post.
A rumored candidate in 2016, the CEO of Starbucks has long denied an interest in politics. He has a great American dream backstory as a working-class kid from Brooklyn who made good in management and built one of America's most prominent brands. Widely respected as a businessman, Schultz is also viewed as a pioneer in employee compensation, education, and benefits, as well as workplace culture. Like Bezos, he is well-placed to offer solutions from his own managerial experience to the woes of the middle-class worker.
Oprah has built one of the strongest personal brands in America over the past three decades. Perhaps no other business leader has cemented a more positive impression and attained such positive brand recognition in the eyes of a wide swath of Americans, without suffering through developing a political and voting record. Oprah would continue the Democratic tradition of nominating non-white, non-male presidential candidates representing a pluralistic electorate, and could potentially return African American turnout to 2008 levels, and the positive view that suburban female voters hold of her could prove the difference in a close election.
The billionaire tech entrepreneur and outspoken sports owner is perhaps the closest personality to Trump on the independent-democratic side of the aisle. A relentless critic of the president elect, Cuban can claim multi-industry business experience and has also built up a brand with middle America through his popular show Shark Tank, similar to how Trump built up his brand with The Apprentice.
Although not a businessman in the classic sense, Hanks has built one of the most recognizable brands in America, particularly aging Middle America. He could be a strong compromise between a traditional politician and a true outsider business candidate. Hanks-Oprah (or Oprah-Hanks) 2020?