Four years after declaring that, “when they go low, we go high,” former First Lady Michelle Obama returned to the Democratic National Convention with another powerful speech. Obama, 56, stumped for friend Joe Biden on the first day of the DNC, August 17, telling voters the reasons why they should choose this “profoundly decent man” on November 3 — and why “going high” is still the correct thing to do.
She added a small caveat, though. “Let’s be clear: going high does not mean putting on a smile and saying nice things when confronted by viciousness and cruelty. Going high means taking the harder path. It means scraping and clawing our way to that mountain top,” the former FLOTUS, wearing a necklace that spelled out “vote” said. “Going high is the only thing that works, because when we go low, when we use those same tactics, we just become part of the ugly noise.”
She had a dire warning for Americans who don’t think their vote counts: “If you think things can not possibly get worse, trust me — they can and they will if we don’t make a change in this election,” Obama said, accusing President Donald Trump of being “in over his head” after four years of failures. “If we have any hope of ending this chaos, we have got to vote for Joe [Biden] like our lives depend on it,” she urged. “A president’s words have the power to move markets. They can summon our better angels or awaken our worst instincts. You simply cannot fake your way through this job. Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are.”
Biden, she said, “was a terrific Vice President. He knows what it takes to rescue an economy, beat back a pandemic, and has what it takes to lead our country. And he listens. He will tell the truth and trust science. He will make smart plans and manage a good team. And he will govern as someone who’s lived a life that the rest of us can recognize.”
Obama pointed to the struggles that her friend has faced throughout his life — losing his wife and daughter in a car accident in 1972, overcoming a severe stutter, and losing his son, Beau Biden, to brain cancer in 2015. “His life is a testament to getting back up,” she said. “And he is going to channel that same passion and grit to pick us all up. To help us heal, and guide us forward.”
Obama has spent her time after leaving the White House focusing on voting rights and education. She established the nonpartisan organization When We All Vote in the months leading up to the 2018 midterm elections, which encourages Americans to register to vote. The organization is a favorite with politically active celebrities, who frequently partner with When We All Vote for fantastic events.
When she teamed up with The Roots in June for their annual picnic, she encouraged viewers at home to get out the vote. “It couldn’t be more important that everyone get their voice heard this time around. We may not all sound like SZA or Kirk Franklin, but we all deserve to have our voices heard at the polls this fall.” On her newly-launched Spotify podcast, Obama recently discussed how Donald Trump‘s failings as a president have led to her suffering from a “low-grade depression.”
“I have to say, that waking up to the news, waking up to how this administration has or has not responded, waking up to yet another, story of a Black man or a Black person somehow being dehumanized, or hurt or killed, or falsely accused of something, it is exhausting,” the former FLOTUS said. “And, it has led to a weight that I haven’t felt in my life in a while.”
“Spiritually, these are not fulfilling times,” Obama told former NPR anchor Michele Norris. “I know that I am dealing with some form of low-grade depression. Not just because of the quarantine, but because of the racial strife, and just seeing this administration — watching the hypocrisy of it, day in and day out, is dispiriting.”
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