Michelle Obama delivered a powerful closing argument in the 2020 presidential election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden on Tuesday. The 26-minute video message covered several topics on the minds of voters, including the pandemic, civic unrest, and voter suppression. It was a condemnation of Trump's presidency that Obama said she'd been thinking of sharing for awhile.
The former First Lady tweeted, "And I’ll be very honest: This is a message I’d planned to release earlier, and after everything that’s happened, I weighed whether or not to go public at all. But I wanted you all to hear what’s been on my mind." After weeks of addressing current events on her new Spotify podcast, Obama held nothing back when it came to her feelings about Trump's "racist" campaign and what's at stake for the country's future. "We simply cannot get this president to tell us the truth about anything," she said, on the heels of a week that contained Trump's COVID-19 diagnosis, brief hospitalization, and then call to not let COVID-19 "dominate your life."
My heart goes out to everyone touched by this virus, from those at the White House, especially the Secret Service and residence staff whose service ought never be taken for granted, to all those names and stories most of us will unfortunately never know. https://t.co/dtEUrcjPAy— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) October 6, 2020
Obama also reflected on the division she feels Trump's administration thrives off of during both the pandemic and a reckoning with race. "Right now, the president and his allies are trying to tap into that frustration and distract from his breathtaking failures by giving folks someone to blame other than them," she explained.
The When We All Vote co-chair then urged citizens who were undecided about their vote or whether they would cast a ballot at all to "vote for Joe Biden like your lives depend on it":
"Think about what would possibly compel you to accept this level of chaos, violence, and confusion under this president and be willing to watch our country continue to spiral out of control. Because we can no longer pretend that we don’t know exactly who or what this president stands for. Search your hearts and your conscience and then vote for Joe Biden like your lives depend on it. Look you all know that politics has never been my thing."
Though Obama confessed "that politics has never been my thing," she managed to deliver a powerful call-to-action less than a month before the election. Ahead, some of her major remarks regarding COVID-19, protests against systemic racism, and voting on November 3.
On Trump's Mismanagement Of COVID-19:
"If you’re a parent like me, you’re feeling the consequences of this president’s failure to take this pandemic seriously. From his constant downplaying of the importance of masks and social distancing, to his relentless pressure on schools to open without offering a clear plan or meaningful support to keep students and teachers safe."
"It’s painful to think that months into this crisis, this is still where we are with no clear plan, no peace of mind. And the worst part is, it didn’t have to be like this. Look around the world, so many other countries aren’t experiencing this level of extended suffering and uncertainty. These countries were hit by the same virus as we were, they had the same kind of resources to contain it as we did. But what they didn’t have to contend with was this President—a man who had every resource at his disposal, the finest medical experts, our best intelligence, and yet ignored all the advice and failed to produce a plan to provide enough tests for worried families or protective equipment for our healthcare workers.
The truth is, the events of the past few days are a bracing reminder of the tragedy that has been this administration’s response to this crisis.— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) October 6, 2020
A man who knew how deadly this virus is but whom lied to us and told us it would just disappear. Who in the greatest crisis of our lifetimes, doubled down on division and resentment, railed against measures that could’ve mitigated the damage, and continues to hold massive events without requiring masks or social distancing, knowingly exposing his own supporters to a dangerous virus. Today more Americans have died from this virus than died in the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, and Korea combined. Take all those lives bravely sacrificed and double it. That is roughly the scale of this tragedy. And our commander in chief, sadly, has been missing in action."
"Seven months later, he still doesn’t have a plan for this virus. Seven months later, he still won’t wear a mask consistently and encourage others to do the same. Even when those simple actions could save countless lives. Instead, he continues to gaslight the American people by acting like this pandemic is not a real threat."
On Trump's Response To Peaceful Protests Against Police Brutality:
"They’re stoking fears about Black and brown Americans, lying about how minorities will destroy the suburbs, whipping up violence and intimidation. And they’re pinning it all on what’s been an overwhelmingly peaceful movement for racial solidarity. It’s true. Research backs it up. Only a tiny fraction of demonstrations have had any violence at all. So what the president is doing is once again patently false. It’s morally wrong. And yes, it is racist. But that doesn’t mean it won’t work. Because this is a difficult time, a confusing time, and when people hear these lies and crazy conspiracies repeated over and over and over again, they don’t know what to think. With everything going on in their lives, they don’t have time to fact-check falsehoods being spread throughout the internet. And even reasonable people might get scared. And the one thing this president is really, really good at is using fear and confusion and spreading lies to win."
Because the drama of the past few days has only emphasized what’s at stake in this election, from the coronavirus to a constant drumbeat of fear, division, and chaos that’s threatening to spiral out of control.— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) October 6, 2020
On Facing Racism In America:
"As a Black woman. . . the knowledge that any of my fellow Americans is more afraid of me than the chaos we are living through right now, well that hurts. It hurts us all. It is a heaviness that sits on our hearts. So I wanna appeal for some empathy here too.
I want everyone who is still undecided to think about all those folks like me and my ancestors—the moms and dads who worked their fingers to the bone to raise their kids right. The teenagers who wear hoodies while working hard to get their diplomas. The millions of folks who look like me and fought and died and toiled as slaves and soldiers and laborers to help build this country. Put yourselves in our shoes for just a moment.
Imagine how it feels to wake up every day and do your very best to uphold the values that this country claims to hold dear. Truth, honor, decency—only to have those efforts met by scorn. Not just by your fellow citizens, but by a sitting president. Imagine how it feels to have suspicion cast on you from the day you were born, simply because of the hue of your skin. To walk around your own country scared that someone’s unjustified fear of you could put you in harm’s way. Terrified of what four more years of this kind of division might mean for the safety of you and those you love. Living with the knowledge that no matter how hard we try, how much good we do in the world, there will be far too many who will never see our humanity. Who will project on us their own fears of retribution for centuries of injustice and thus only see us as a threat to be restrained. And we know what happens next—a racial slur from a passing car, a job promotion that never comes, a routine traffic stop gone wrong, maybe a knee to the neck."
Obama ended her speech by urging citizens to vote, no matter their disillusionment with the process. "Not once have I let someone else’s ignorance and hatred keep me from doing my duty as a citizen," she said, adding, "Because I know we don’t have the luxury to assume that things are gonna turn out OK. We cannot afford to withhold our votes or waste them on a protest candidate. One of these two men will be president and only if we vote for Joe Biden with power and with passion will our voices even have a chance at being heard."
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