Michelle Obama Speaks for Hillary, for Women


Michelle Obama speaks at Mulberry School for Girls in London. Photo: Simon Davis/DFID

“A candidate for president of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women.”

This single sentence holds one of the main issues that has been circling in the 2016 presidential election during the past few months. Not written in an article, not reported by a second-hand source, but spoken live to the people of New Hampshire and the United States, these 14 words cover what has needed to be said since Republican Donald Trump announced his candidacy.

We owe these words, and so much more, to First Lady Michelle Obama.

In the eight years since having been sworn into the White House, we have seen President Barack Obama address the U.K. Parliament, pursue the death of Osama bin Laden and support the legalization of same-sex marriage. As a nation we have watched him, the first sitting president to ever visit Hiroshima and the first to visit Cuba in 88 years. And unlike former presidents, we have also seen his wife, our First Lady, take initiative and become a role model for women.

At a rally for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in Manchester on Oct. 13, Michelle Obama addressed Trump’s history of disrespecting and allegedly sexually assaulting women.

“We thought all of that was ancient history, didn’t we?” she asked, referring to the stories women have heard, from their mothers and grandmothers, of bosses forcing themselves on women in workplaces. “So many have worked for so many years to end this kind of violence and abuse and disrespect. But here we are, 2016, and we’re hearing these exact same things every day on the campaign trail.”

Perhaps what made Michelle Obama’s words stand out so greatly was the way she spoke on a personal level. At times, her voice wavered; she spoke with emotion and in first person. Using words such as “us” and “we” when she spoke specifically about women, she showed her personal concern. She was not another political voice searching for votes. She was human.

“This is disgraceful. It is intolerable, and it doesn’t matter what party you belong to,” Michelle Obama said. “Democrat, Republican, Independent — no woman deserves to be treated this way. No one deserves this kind of abuse.”

Calling out Trump for his actions, like fat-shaming, kissing and groping, Michelle Obama pointed out the negative effects his actions have on children. We cannot expect them to grow up with the right mindset and ideals when the potential leader of our nation has committed these very injustices. She also spoke to the fact that the majority of men do not treat women in this way.

“Because let’s be very clear: strong men — strong men, men who are truly role models — don’t need to put down women to make themselves feel powerful,” she said.

Additionally, Michelle Obama called on listeners to vote for Clinton on Nov. 8 to prevent electing Trump as president. She called on young people to share their stories on social media, on others to volunteer with the Clinton campaign and for everyone to vote. For while it is clear to her that Trump is not qualified, Clinton is not the next best choice by default; Clinton is the right person for the job.

“[Hillary] has been successful in every role, gaining more experience and exposure to the presidency than any candidate in our lifetime,” she said. “More than Barack. More than Bill. And, yes, she happens to be a woman.”

Michelle Obama noted the importance of each vote by recalling President Barack Obama won New Hampshire by about 40,000 votes in 2012, meaning the difference between winning and losing the state was just 66 votes per precinct. Had the 66 people voted the other way, he would not have won. Therefore every single person has the power to make a difference in this election; every vote counts.

The First Lady has made clear her reasons to support Clinton and denounce Trump.

“We’re telling our sons that it’s OK to humiliate women,” she said. “We’re telling our daughters this is how they deserve to be treated… if we have a president who routinely degrades women, who brags about sexually assaulting women, then how can we maintain our moral authority in the world?”

The answer is, we can’t. The recording of Trump and television personality Billy Bush in 2005 that was recently released contains words too graphic and derogatory to quote. In response to the outrage caused by this recording, Trump filmed an apology that aired Oct. 8. How he can call this video an apology is questionable, to say the least.

He began with, “I never said I’m a perfect person.” This from the man who speaks about women with words that scar our ears; from the man who is currently “keeping us in suspense” on his reaction if he loses the election; and from the man who may be the next leader of America.

“I said it, I was wrong and I apologize,” he went on. “Let’s be honest. We’re living in the real world. This is nothing more than a distraction from the important issues we are facing today.”

Yet these are the issues we are facing today. Gender equality, racial equality, religious equality, these are the problems Americans are dealing with as women and minorities and Muslims. A possible leader of our country must know this. There is nothing Trump can say to make his comments less-painful, less-vulgar or more-viable even if he tried to sincerely apologize.

Michelle Obama’s words on Thursday were perhaps some of the most necessary in this election.

“I have to tell you that I listened to all this and I feel it so personally,” she said. “I’m sure that many of you do too, particularly the women. The shameful comments about our bodies. The disrespect of our ambitions and intellect. The belief that you can do anything you want to a woman. It is cruel. It is frightening. And the truth is, it hurts.” She paused, as the crowd roared. “It hurts.”

To listen to the recording of Trump and Billy Bush from 2005:


To watch a video/read the transcript of Michelle Obama’s speech: