"You know I hate politics. But you also know that I care about this nation."

Morgan Noll
August 18, 2020
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BET Awards 2020, Getty Images

Amid a global pandemic, the ongoing fight against systemic racism, and the threat of a privatized U.S. Postal Service, it can feel impossible to find hope that things will improve with the upcoming presidential election. For many people, though, Michelle Obama's speech for the Democratic National Convention last night was that beacon of hope—and we're clinging on to it as hard as we can. The former first lady, who reminded everyone last night that she "hates politics," started out by leveling with the audience, knowing how discouraged so many people are currently feeling.

"It's a hard time, and everyone's feeling it in different ways," she said, "And I know a lot of folks are reluctant to tune into a political convention right now or to politics in general. Believe me, I get that. But I am here tonight because I love this country with all my heart, and it pains me to see so many people hurting."

Obama explained some of the myriad ways people in America are hurting right now, pointing to the 150,000 lives lost to coronavirus (COVID-19) and the other ways the pandemic has threatened the livelihood of so many.

"Our economy is in shambles because of a virus that this president downplayed for too long," she said. "It has left millions of people jobless. Too many have lost their health care; too many are struggling to take care of basic necessities like food and rent; too many communities have been left in the lurch to grapple with whether and how to open our schools safely."

She continued, pointing out the way the administration's lack of empathy for the ongoing protests against systemic racism: "As George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and a never-ending list of innocent people of color continue to be murdered, stating the simple fact that a Black life matters is still met with derision from the nation's highest office."

However, Obama's speech wasn't just about listing the things that are wrong in the country today, but about encouraging people to vote to make them better in the future.

"So 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," she said. "If we have any hope of ending this chaos, we have got to vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it."

Obama finished by quoting the recently passed civil-rights leader and U.S. Representative John Lewis, "'When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something.'" Then, she added, "That is the truest form of empathy: not just feeling, but doing; not just for ourselves or our kids, but for everyone, for all our kids."

Of course, Obama's powerful speech was not the end but the beginning to a lot of conversation—and people were especially happy about the shade she threw Trump's way.

At one point in the speech, Obama got explicitly clear with her feelings about number 45: "Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country. 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."

To follow Obama's advice, head to her non-profit, nonpartisan organization When We All Vote, and make sure you're ready to vote in the upcoming election.