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A New Beacon Of Hope?

FUTURE LEADERS?: Voters want Michelle Obama to run for US president in 2020

IN THE aftermath of disappointment, many who were hoping to witness America elect its first
female president have turned to Michelle Obama as a beacon of hope.

#Michelle2020 quickly started trending online as the public call upon her to run for president in 2020. Among thousands that have urged her to run in a loosely organised Twitter campaign was, one commentator wrote: “Perfect conditions for Michelle Obama to win 2020 elections.”

Another said: “Michelle Obama 2020 please Michelle Obama 2020 please Michelle Obama 2020 please.”
Others created slogans for Mrs Obama’s possible candidacy such as “Make America Safe Again” and “Make the World Great Again”, phrases that parody Mr Trump’s often repeated phrase “Make America Great Again”.

HOPE

Her supporters have said that if Mrs Obama were to run, it would not only offer hope in providing a strong alternative to a two-term Trump presidency, but it would also reignite the prospect of America electing its first female president

Only this time, hopes are being pinned on a black female. Given that black women have historically had to struggle against the obstacles of racism and sexism, and are still battling them this would certainly be a monumental landmark. Mrs Obama herself has said on a number of occasions that while she would like to see a woman president, she will not be running for political office herself.

But it’s no surprise that despite her public declarations they have not stopped people on social media talking about it. So what is it about Michelle Obama that appeals to so many potential voters and gets them more excited about politics than the prospect of voting for Hillary Clinton? With her high favourability ratings far exceeding those of her husband, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, there is plenty to suggest Mrs Obama would make a strong candidate to be the first female US president. She is one of the most popular First Ladies in recent times and it’s significant that her popularity remained high even as her role in the Clinton campaign grew.

In 2010, Forbes magazine named her as the most powerful woman in the world. Her campaigning for US veterans, her highlighting issues such as child nutrition and her Let Girls Learn campaign have proven popular. Some observers say this highlights an awareness of societal inequalities that would make a progressive and uniting
president. And the speech she made at this year’s Democratic National Convention, where she talked about her daughters growing up in the White House which was built by slaves, shows she is unafraid to take on thorny questions of race relations at a time of heightened racial tensions and concerns over police shootings of unarmed black men.

VISION

Joshua Kendall, author of First Dads: Parenting and Politics from George Washington to Barack Obama, who witnessed the speech, said: “Donald Trump can show off his kids, and they’re reasonably articulate, but the one thing that’s really missing is a vision of the future and what we’re going to leave our children. That’s what came through her speech: looking through the eyes of her daughters.”

Christina Cauterucci of Slate, an online politics and current affairs magazine, wrote recently: “There is no shortage of reasons why Obama appeals to those seeking comfort in the face of four years under a man who has pledged to terrorise just about everyone in America besides straight white men. In many ways, she’s the antithesis of Donald Trump.”

However, she said that this alone would not make Michelle Obama a good president. “Thrusting her into the running for the Democratic nomination is short-sighted and counterproductive. “She has also never held political office or ad- vocated for issues that engender divisive opinions. What does Obama think about drone warfare?
“How would she improve upon Obama- care? Does she support public funding for abortion? Nobody knows. And as soon as they do, Obama will lose the main reason for her broad appeal: her relative political neutrality in the public eye.”

She added: “Pushing for a Michelle Obama campaign undersells the pipeline of female politicians who aren’t political spouses, but who would make great candidates and might have already set their sights on the presidency. People hoping for a female president and formidable opposition to Trump in 2020 should focus their attention on these women.”

These women would include Kamala Harris, who recently made history when she was elected as California’s first new senator in 23 years, and becoming only the second black woman to serve in the US senate after Carol Moseley Braun, who served from 1993-1999.

SYMBOLISM

Harris has pledged to fight for the Black Lives Matter movement, while addressing issues faced by students, and fighting for the reproductive health rights of women across the state. Also, while those who tweeted under the #Michelle2020 Twitter campaign have talked excitedly about the huge symbolism of a black woman president, the presidency of Barack Obama has shown that it is a mistake to think that the individual success of one black person in high office is the same as racial progress. Unless Michelle Obama was to champion the cause of race equality far more vocally than she has done as First Lady, those who have been urging her to run on social media could be very disappointed.

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