Former First Lady Michelle Obama anchored the opening night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention by sending a clear message that President Donald Trump is “clearly in over his head,” that defeating him is of tantamount importance and that Democratic candidate Joe Biden “has served this nation his entire life without ever losing sight of who he is; but more than that, he has never lost sight of who we are, all of us.”
Obama, in her prepared remarks, sounded more directly political than she has in prior public appearances and took shots (and some say threw epic shade) at what she called the president’s failures.
“More than 150,000 people have died, and our economy is in shambles because of a virus that this president downplayed for too long,” she said. “It has left millions of people jobless. Too many have lost their health care; too many are struggling to take care of basic necessities like food and rent; too many communities have been left in the lurch to grapple with whether and how to open our schools safely. Internationally, we’ve turned our back, not just on agreements forged by my husband, but on alliances championed by presidents like Reagan and Eisenhower.”
A popular social and political figure, Obama’s words elicited a resounding response on social media, signifying a virtual audience that was glued to their seats and screens.
Obama continued her address by invoking the names of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor when speaking out about racial and social justice. But she centered her thoughts on the concept of empathy, an ideal she believes is still a part of the fiber of modern American society.
“…Kids in this country are seeing what happens when we stop requiring empathy of one another. They’re looking around wondering if we’ve been lying to them this whole time about who we are and what we truly value,” she said.
“They see people shouting in grocery stores, unwilling to wear a mask to keep us all safe. They see people calling the police on folks minding their own business just because of the color of their skin,” she continued. “They see an entitlement that says only certain people belong here, that greed is good, and winning is everything because as long as you come out on top, it doesn’t matter what happens to everyone else. And they see what happens when that lack of empathy is ginned up into outright disdain.”
The former First Lady also gave reasons why she feels Biden is the better alternative to Trump after witnessing the past four years, calling Biden a “profoundly decent man” and someone who will “govern as someone who’s lived a life that the rest of us can recognize.”
“When he was a kid, Joe’s father lost his job. When he was a young senator, Joe lost his wife and his baby daughter. And when he was vice president, he lost his beloved son,” said Obama. “So Joe knows the anguish of sitting at a table with an empty chair, which is why he gives his time so freely to grieving parents. Joe knows what it’s like to struggle, which is why he gives his personal phone number to kids overcoming a stutter of their own.
“His life is a testament to getting back up, and he is going to channel that same grit and passion to pick us all up, to help us heal and guide us forward,” she said.