Junge/NTB Scanpix via ZUMA Press
For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones’ newsletters.Michelle Obama’s speech Monday night at the Democratic National Convention was the heart and soul of opening night.
Obama’s passionate remarks hewed to a characteristic she is beloved for: she is a moral compass, she’s clarity in the muddiest days. “Most of us practice [empathy] without a second thought…because there but for the grace of God go I,” the former first lady said. “But right now, 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 cited several national horrors from the past four years—police brutality, white supremacist marches, a border patrol that rips children away from their families and imprisons them.
When it came to discussing President Donald Trump’s tenure outright, she got straight to the point. “Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,” Obama said steadily. “He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is.”
She was also unwavering in her support for her husband’s former vice president. “Now, Joe is not perfect, and he’d be the first to tell you that,” she said. “But there is no perfect candidate, no perfect president. And his ability to learn and grow—we find in that the kind of humility and maturity that so many of us yearn for right now. Because 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.”
She continued: “If you take one thing from my words tonight, it is this: if you think things cannot possibly get worse, trust me, they can; and they will if we don’t make a change in this election. If we have any hope of ending this chaos, we have got to vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it.”
Watch her full remarks: