Michelle Obama says pandemic response has kids questioning 'what we truly value' in DNC speech

The former first lady also called Donald Trump "the wrong president for our country."
Image: Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee
Michelle Obama addresses the Democratic National Convention.DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION / EPA
/ Source: Today

Former first lady Michelle Obama was one of the most anticipated speakers during the first night of the Democratic National Convention on Monday.

The mother of two famously dislikes politics, a point she brought up in her speech, but she still addressed several top-of-mind political issues right now, including the coronavirus, the economy and Black Lives Matter.

Reflecting on the pandemic, Obama said: "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 continued: "They see people shouting in grocery stores, unwilling to wear a mask to keep us all safe. They see people calling the police on folks minding their own business just because of the color of their skin.

"They see an entitlement that says only certain people belong here, that greed is good, and winning is everything because as long as you come out on top, it doesn’t matter what happens to everyone else. And they see what happens when that lack of empathy is ginned up into outright disdain. They see our leaders labeling fellow citizens enemies of the state while emboldening torch-bearing white supremacists.

"They watch in horror as children are torn from their families and thrown into cages, and pepper spray and rubber bullets are used on peaceful protestors for a photo-op. Sadly, this is the America that is on display for the next generation."

Obama added: "A nation that’s underperforming not simply on matters of policy but on matters of character. And that’s not just disappointing; it’s downright infuriating, because I know the goodness and the grace that is out there in households and neighborhoods all across this nation."

She also returned to her well-known comments from her 2016 DNC speech about "going high" when "they go low."

"Going high is the only thing that works, because when we go low, when we use those same tactics of degrading and dehumanizing others, we just become part of the ugly noise that’s drowning out everything else," she said. "We degrade ourselves. We degrade the very causes for which we fight."

"But let’s be clear: going high does not mean putting on a smile and saying nice things when confronted by viciousness and cruelty," she continued. "Going high means taking the harder path ... Going high means standing fierce against hatred while remembering that we are one nation under God, and if we want to survive, we’ve got to find a way to live together and work together across our differences."

She also called President Trump the "wrong" person to lead the 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," she said.

Obama ended with a strong endorsement of Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

"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."

Read her full remarks.