For eight years, Michelle Obama has been the first lady of America. But she’s also been America’s mom, the woman out there telling our kids to eat their vegetables, to get outside and play. Is it any wonder America’s mom just turned the entire election into a commentary on how you raise your kids? Is there any other way to look at the first lady’s Democratic National Convention speech?
Coming on the heels of an impassioned New Jersey Senator Cory Booker calling for “a country that doesn’t degrade or demean other folks but elevates our nation and pulls us together,” Michelle Obama stepped in to remind us that little pitchers have very big ears… and they’re listening to all the infighting, backbiting and Donald Trump’s schoolyard bullying.
Using her own girls as stand-ins for every American child, Michelle Obama reminded us that she tells her girls, “When someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level.”
She told us what kind of president she wants for her girls — a president who knows that the issues of a presidency aren’t black-and-white and cannot be “boiled down to 140 characters.”
She wants “a president with a record of public service, someone whose life’s work shows our children that we don’t chase fame and fortune for ourselves.”
She wants all us American parents to sit down and have a good, long think about who it is we want our kids to see on the TV screen while they’re eating their Cheerios before school, because that’s the person they’re going to be looking up to for at least the next four years. Do we want the woman who will let little girls and little boys both know that gender is not a barrier to anything, not even the presidency? Or do we want the guy who mocks people with disabilities on camera and calls women fat pigs?
And after you’ve got the whole “I pick good role models for my kids” issue sorted, next comes the “I plan for my kids’ futures” issue, courtesy of Mrs. Obama, because squirreling away a little mad money for the day they go to college isn’t going to be of help to them if the country they call home is a hot mess.
As the first lady pointed out, “Being president is about one thing and one thing only. It’s about leaving something better for our kids.”
One president gets four years to change a nation for the better or the worse, and if they take America down the wrong path, getting back to the beginning is no easy course correction (see also President Barack Obama’s uphill battle to fix an economic disaster he inherited).
“We cannot afford to be tired or frustrated or cynical,” Obama said. “Between now and November, we need to do what we did eight years ago and four years ago: We need to knock on every door. We need to get out every vote.”
Put more directly, America’s mom just told us all to stop being so GD self-centered and start thinking about what the hell is going to happen after our Facebook memes and Twitter hashtags have been lost in the ether and a whole other generation has to deal with the consequences of what we do… or don’t do… come November. Because choosing a president isn’t about who has the cleverest quips or the coolest swag, who’s got the best Instagram photos or who can convince Chachi to break every ’70s kid’s ever-loving heart. And lest you think she’s preaching to the wrong choir, let’s not forget that this speech came just about an hour after Sarah Silverman had to hush a crowd full of angry Bernie or Bust protesters booing her for crossing the aisle to support Hillary Clinton.
There are a lot of angry Americans who aren’t exactly sitting down with clear heads to think through what it will actually take to get a candidate elected this fall… or what will happen if they can’t come together for one.
If you can’t do it for yourself, take the first lady’s advice — do it for your kids.
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