How not to ruin Thanksgiving talking politics
Michelle Obama is exactly who the Democrats need to win big in 2020
As Democrats prepare for another election season, various names have popped up as potential candidates to lead the party. Names like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have been the popular choices of the liberal wing. Names like Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have been the popular choice of the establishment wing. But only one political figure has been able to gain traction with both wings of the party, and that is Michelle Obama.
The former first lady may be the best hope for Democrats in winning back the White House. Her pedigree certainly stands up to that of our current president. Educated at Princeton University and Harvard Law School, Obama began her career at one of the nation's most prestigious law firms, Sidley Austin. After leaving the private sector for public service, she worked for Mayor Richard Daley as a commissioner and then served as vice president of community and external affairs at the University of Chicago Medical Center.
Obama's resume may not sound as impressive as a New York real estate developer who supposedly made "billions" of dollars, but take a step back and consider the facts. She was raised in the south side of Chicago by working class African American parents in the 1960s. She didn't come from wealth. Her father couldn't hand over a successful business to her or loan her millions of dollars to help her get started. She had to find success the way that millions of Americans find it every day, through hard work and dedication. She is the embodiment of the American dream.
Obama certainly could have stayed in the private sector and made millions as a corporate attorney, but much like her husband, she had goals bigger than herself. She pursued these goals as a private citizen and then turned them into reality as first lady of the United States. She used her platform at the White House to address issues like access to better schools for children, access to healthier food for children, and access to better job training for all Americans. She rarely shied away from taking on her critics and had no problem inspiring Americans across the political spectrum.
For the last eight years, Michelle Obama has been a rock star in the Democratic Party. One of the primary reasons that her approval ratings stayed so high, even when her husband's approval ratings slipped, is her authenticity. Her grace and ability to speak to voters, instead of talking at them, was on full display throughout the 2016 election. Her final speech in New Hampshire after Donald Trump's Access Hollywood tape was released was her most powerful moment. In that speech she said, "People who are truly strong lift others up. People who are truly powerful bring others together. And that is what we need in our next president. We need someone who is a uniting force in this country. We need someone who will heal the wounds that divide us, someone who truly cares about us and our children, someone with strength and compassion to lead this country forward."
Obama speaks with the sensitivity of a mother and the life experience of a woman who has endured sexism, racism, and blatant discrimination, but still rises. As first lady, she ignored the lewd memes and inappropriate comments about her body, with grace. As first lady, she ignored the racially charged comments directed at her husband, her children, and herself, with grace. As first lady, she ignored the petty politics and personal attacks aimed at policies like ensuring that our children eat healthily and stay fit, with grace. She has had more presidential moments as first lady than Trump has had in his first several months as president, which is exactly why we need her.
Should she decide to enter the Democratic race for president, members from both wings of the party should fully embrace her. Unlike many of the potential candidates likely to run for the Democratic nomination, she has the ability to inspire, the ability to fundraise, and the ability to take on Republicans head on. She has proved as much on numerous occasions. The former first lady is uniquely unafraid of the Republican attack machine, having felt its brunt as an African American first lady of the United States. The former first lady is uniquely prepared to tell voters her truly American story of rising up from the working class to become a historic figure for not only African Americans, but all Americans. But most importantly, the former first lady is uniquely willing to talk about what actually makes America great, which is our enduring resilience.
There will be critics who will say that Michelle Obama isn't qualified to run for president. There will be critics who will say that she represents more of the same. There will even be critics who will once again use dog whistles to delegitimize her character and her standing in this country. For the Obamas, none of this will be new. No family outside of the Clintons has faced more personal attacks than the Obamas. With the grace of pioneers like Coretta Scott King and Fannie Lou Hamer, the former first lady has remained poised and unflappable, traits that are all severely missing from the current occupant of the White House.
America needs Michelle Obama. They need a unifier who can speak to the hopes and dreams of all Americans. They need a leader who speaks hard truths while reminding each and every one of us of our better angels. She never wanted to be in the public eye, which is exactly what makes her the perfect candidate. After the destruction and divisiveness of our reality television president, we need someone who has a calming effect. We need grace. As much as I hated the incessant repeating of her campaign moniker, "when they go low, we go high," our country needs a president who understands the gravity of hold that office. We certainly don't deserve her, but she's exactly what we need. Here's to hoping she's fired up and ready to go.
Michael Starr Hopkins is an attorney and former member of the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. He regularly appears on Fox News and CNN to talk about national politics. You can follow him on Twitter @TheOnlyHonest.