Michelle Obama: what’s next for the popular First Lady?
What’s next for Michelle Obama? After her inspiring Democratic Convention speech which wowed the world, Nicola Russell asks what is in store for this charming, intelligent First Lady.
During her term as First Lady, she’s charmed the world with her warmth, approachability and fun, dedicated herself to her chosen causes with admirable commitment, and empowered women with her sass, sense of self-belief and robust values. But when she stepped up to the microphone at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) this year, Michelle Obama elevated herself to a whole new level. That speech cemented the former lawyer and mother-of-two as a political orator in her own right – but more than that, it showed her to be the adult in the room of the 2016 United States election.
“When someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level. No, our motto is, when they go low, we go high,” she said during a speech so untouchable, that even the biggest bully in the schoolyard was silenced within his social media fortress.
There, on Twitter, Donald Trump heckled Bernie Sander’s gracious surrender to Hillary Clinton and name-called Senator Elizabeth Warren ‘Pocahontas’, but he had nothing to say about Michelle’s speech, which expertly countered his commentary of the United States as a failing nation in need of saving by celebrating America and hailing Hillary Clinton as a role model for a progressing nation.
“Don’t let anyone ever tell you that this country isn’t great, that somehow we need to make it great again. Because this, right now, is the greatest country on earth.”
And on Hillary: “I want a president who will teach our children that everyone in this country matters – a president who truly believes in the vision that our founders put forth all those years ago: that we are all created equal, each a beloved part of the great American story. And when crisis hits, we don’t turn against each other – no, we listen to each other. We lean on each other… And I am here tonight because I know that that is the kind of president that Hillary Clinton will be. And that’s why, in this election, I’m with her.”
Her speech on July 25 unified journalists, political commentators and the general public – and most importantly for the Democrats, it made progress in bridging the gap between disgruntled Bernie Sanders supporters and the Hillary Clinton camp, a result which led analysts to claim Michelle may indeed be Clinton’s most powerful ally at this time.
Then Donald Trump went so far as to praise Michelle’s performance, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “I thought her delivery was excellent,” he said. “I thought she did a very good job. I liked her speech.”
It was a comment that led to speculation Donald may even admire the First Lady. Certainly if imitation is the greatest form of flattery, the Republican camp showed this in plagiarising an earlier speech from the First Lady for Melania Trump.
While Michelle has emphatically claimed she will not, like former First Lady Hillary Clinton, be running for president one day, it is clear that her future in swaying opinions is not over. “Hillary Clinton is an impressive woman, and I will not do what she has done,” she said during a White House event in April when questioned by a teenage attendee. “I will not run for president.”
Her husband Barack has said the same. Earlier this year he commented, “There are three things that are certain in life: death, taxes and Michelle is not running for president. That, I can tell you.”
Speaking at the first-ever United State of Women summit dinner, Michelle expressed her continued commitment to her causes – specifically her Let Girls Learn initiative. “I am so excited to continue working on this issue,” she said, adding that she meant not just for her remaining time as First Lady but “for the rest of my life”.
As part of her address at the dinner, she announced $20 million of new commitments to the initiative, which promotes education for adolescent girls around the world. Her work for the cause is certainly still in full flight. Michelle and her daughters, Sasha and Malia, and her mother, Marian Robinson, flew to Liberia, Morocco and Spain in July to meet local leaders and discuss girls’ access to education. They were joined for parts of the tour by actresses Freida Pinto and Meryl Streep in support of the initiative.
For the trip Michelle debuted her Snapchat account, which, she explained to James Corden of The Late Late Show, is a way of connecting with young people. “My message to girls here is, ‘Don’t take your education for granted,’” she told James. “Because there are girls in the world who would die to get the education that we have. I want girls and boys here to be aware of that, so I want them to come along on this trip with me and Snapchat was a good way to kind of hook ’em in.”
That and her appearance on
Carpool Karaoke are both examples of Michelle’s expert use of media to promote her causes by using her most important asset – relatability. Carpool Karaoke is a segment hosted by James, where he drives celebrities and they sing together to songs playing on the car stereo. He has hosted some of the world’s most famous singers in the segment, including Adele, Rod Stewart and Mariah Carey.
Through her TV appearances (such as dancing with Jimmy Fallon and Ellen) and her prowess in connecting with people through social media, the funny, cool and charming First Lady
Left: Michelle dressed in Democratic blue for the party’s 2016 convention in July, where she delivered her powerful address in support of Hillary Clinton.