Michelle Obama’s Pitch to Disaffected Democrats

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The passage below was only a tiny part of Michelle Obama’s speech tonight, but I think the entire rest of the address, all 3,000 words of it, had only a single purpose: to make this one tiny part resonate by the time she got to it.

I love that we can trust Barack to do what he says he’s going to do, even when it’s hard — especially when it’s hard….He reminds me that we are playing a long game here — and that change is hard, and change is slow, and it never happens all at once.

….And if so many brave men and women could wear our country’s uniform and sacrifice their lives for our most fundamental rights, then surely we can do our part as citizens of this great democracy to exercise those rights. Surely, we can get to the polls and make our voices heard on Election Day.

That was it. That was the whole point of the speech: to convince disappointed Obama fans that her husband was worth getting off their butts and working for again. Change is hard. It happens one small step at a time. We’re playing a long game and you should be ashamed of yourself if you feel like quitting just because Barack hasn’t won every battle. Now get out there and vote.

The rest of the speech was extremely well crafted and Michelle Obama delivered it like a pro. It hit all the right notes. There were no gratuitous partisan attacks (unless her remark that “the truth matters” was a subtle barb). I’ll bet it gets high marks in the overnight polling. But as good as the rest of it was, it was, in the end, just a superstructure designed to provide emotional support for the four sentences above. If they hit home, the speech did its work. If they didn’t, it failed.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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