Dear Michelle Obama
Updated: Jun 18, 2020
I know you may not want to hear this. I know you say you have no interest in politics. But I’m urging you to connect with Joe on Zoom, and tell him that you’re in, that you’d be happy to serve as Vice President.
I completely understand why you wouldn’t want to do this. Some people treated you terribly as First Lady. You’re not shy about explaining how muzzled you felt as a result. Nor are you shy about opening up on a range of personal issues, from marriage counseling to the trials of motherhood. This is all part of what makes you so suited to this moment.
In the past week or so, a movement has swept across this country. People who, at best, feel invisible, and, at worst, feel persecuted, are standing up in record number to say, “We matter.” And people of all races and backgrounds are standing beside them to echo the call.
There has been a strong push since the protests began for Biden to select a woman of color. I agree with this, and I’ll eagerly get behind whomever is selected, because I know there are many accomplished Black women who are extremely qualified. But there is no denying, Mrs. Obama, that you are special. The proof is in the faces of young girls you speak to. You have a unique ability to instill calm and confidence. You listen when people speak, and when you speak, people listen.
The Black Lives Matter movement is led largely by the young. It’s clear that you care deeply about the next generation and want to build a future that embraces the good in everyone and fosters opportunity for those who feel cast aside. You can be a bridge between generations.
Having you as our Vice President wouldn’t just be a powerful symbol. It would lead to meaningful policy. We could finally have the difficult conversations that this country desperately needs at the most important tables in the world. You’ve already sat at all of those tables, so you know how things work. But you also know how things are broken. You grew up on the South Side of Chicago and made it to Princeton and Harvard Law and to the White House. Where you grow up shouldn’t have to be something you overcome. It should just be part of your story. You can help us rewrite ours.
You might argue that you can help accomplish all of this without re-entering politics. That your platform is huge, your skillset boundless, and now you have the freedom to do what you please. I get that. But don’t you also believe in changing things from the inside out? For all of its flaws, democracy still works, doesn’t it? Despite living with our current administration, ours is one of the highest functioning democratic systems in the world. If you’re back on the inside, people can start to believe in our institutions again. People will be engaged rather than disenfranchised. People will turn out to vote, but also, people, at all levels, might be inspired to run for office themselves. You’re already a world-renowned role model.
Of course, the attacks from the other side would likely be malicious and untrue. But you’ve been through that before. And you remain one of the most admired people in the world. After all, when they go low… Even your husband, the subject of so much ire, left office with a nearly 60% approval rating. A strong majority, if not a vast majority, of Americans are with you. A strong majority of Americans adore you, especially Americans who are wondering if they matter.
In considering my appeal, I’d ask that you remember 2008. Remember the soaring optimism that swept across this country. That optimism is still out there, as powerful and ubiquitous as the crowds now taking to the streets. Seeing you return to the White House would help us get back that hope.
I realize that you’ve made it abundantly clear you have no interest in the job. Your ambitions don’t lie in politics. And maybe that’s why this feels so right, like a kind of destiny. The set of circumstances we’re currently living with—a racist president, a pandemic—have brought to a boil long-simmering injustices. No one would have asked for any of this, but somehow, it’s allowed us to finally move these issues to the front burner.
When we think about destiny, don’t we often think about love? Wasn’t it fate that brought that handsome man with a funny name into your law office? Wasn’t it destiny that the man with big ears and even bigger ideas courted you and promised to spend his life trying to be worthy of being your husband?
Love is bold and unplanned. Yet it has a way of being right.