Former First Lady Michelle Obama is headlining a major push to increase voter turnout for the 2020 presidential election — a cause she says she embraced after seeing a major drop off in interest in voting in 2016.
Obama made the admission in a preview for her upcoming documentary, “Becoming,” which follows Obama’s quest to regain a “normal life” after leaving the White House, while also using her newfound status to press for public change, according to CNN. The film also follows the former First Lady’s book tour, promoting her autobiography of the same name.
Although little of the film is political, at least according to early reviews by primarily mainstream media outlets, Obama does talk about the 2016 election, and takes a more conciliatory tone towards those who voted Republican, laying much of the blame for then-nominee Hillary Clinton’s loss at the feet of Democratic voters who turned out to vote for her husband, former President Barack Obama, but not the 2016 nominee.
“I understand the people who voted for Trump,” Obama says. “The people who didn’t vote at all, the young people, the women, that’s when you think, man, people think this is a game,” she said. “It wasn’t just in this election. Every midterm. Every time Barack didn’t get the Congress he needed, that was because our folks didn’t show up. After all that work, they just couldn’t be bothered to vote at all. That’s my trauma.”
Women did turn out to vote in 2016, they just turned out to vote for Clinton’s opponent, then-Republican nominee Donald Trump. Young people are not a reliable part of any voter coalition, as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) found out earlier this year, when they materialized in droves for political rallies but failed to cast ballots to boost Sanders to the front of the pack of potential 2020 Democratic presidential nominees.
Where Obama is right, though, is in terms of coalitions. President Barack Obama drew out atypical voters in 2008 and again in 2012, giving the then-Democratic candidate a boost that previous Democratic candidates didn’t have. That same coalition failed to turn out for Clinton, perhaps because they simply weren’t as energized by the septugenarian former Senator and Secretary of State as they had been by the young Obama.
“Clinton saw noticeable dips in voter support among African-Americans, Hispanics, and voters under 30 compared to Obama in 2012. And African-American turnout fell by seven percentage points between 2012 and 2016, its first drop in 20 years,” Mediaite reports.
“It takes some energy to go high, and we were exhausted from it. Because when you are the first black anything,” Obama says.
“So the day I left the White House and I write about how painful it was to sit on that stage,” Obama added, referring to her required presence at President Donald Trump’s inauguration. “A lot of our folks didn’t vote. It was almost like a slap in the face.”
Obama has become a key figure in “get out the vote” efforts this time around, headlining an all-celebrity push to register first time voters.
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