Michelle told ya’ll long ago, in very explicit terms, that she was not going to run for office. Just last year, in an interview with the women of “The View” she said:
“Absolutely not — I am not interested in politics, never have been. I mean, one of the things you learn after 48 years of life, you know what your passions and your gifts are… No I have no interest in politics. Never have. Never will.”
Initially, when I heard this admission, I was kind of discouraged. I knew that this meant that after the president’s eight years are over, we wouldn’t see a black woman like her in such a position of leadership for a long time. We would see less and less of our girl.
Yes, “our girl.” Of course I’m very aware and very proud of the fact that Michelle Obama is the First Lady of the United States of America. Yet, over the past five years or so, she has become a relatable, role model. A friend in my head as Wendy Williams would say. Michelle is extremely intelligent, polished and accomplished, yet she’s simultaneously down to earth, approachable and warm. She comes from a place not unlike the places that many black women in this country come from. She says the things black women have said or have wanted to say, in very public spaces. She, despite her position and title, has always managed to come off as someone who’s real and authentic. So it’s not hard to consider her an [imaginary] friend.
And though I originally perceived my friend’s distaste for politics as a negative thing; now, I can see how it’s actually quite wonderful. I don’t really need or want her in politics at all, actually. But now, even after she’s said that and I’ve accepted it, there are still folks— a lot of folks, who are starting to strongly encourage that she do just what she said she wouldn’t.
There is not a doubt in my mind that Michelle would make a good politician. Like her husband, she’s smart, she seems to genuinely care about people and she represents a stark contrast to the money-driven, sleazy, corrupt style of politics this country has known for a long time. But running for office, when she told us that she wouldn’t would be the first in a string of lies to come.
But I guess people aren’t looking at it that way. They’re looking at numbers. Things like her approval ratings and mock polls, which suggest that people would gladly vote for her. What they’re not considering is the fact that both she and President Obama have said that she doesn’t have the patience or temperament for it. She told Gayle not only does she not meddle in her husband’s affairs, she generally stays away from he and his staff’s offices. Judging from Michelle’s time in the White House, it’s clear that she prefers to keep things light and easy, choosing causes that most everyone can support, like assisting military families, the White House garden and her “Let’s Move” campaign. Despite causes that are seemingly universally positive, she’s still had to face scrutiny. And it certainly wouldn’t stop if she were running or even elected to office.
But the greatest loss we’d experience with Michelle as a politician would be the loss of realness we’ve seen her exhibit thus far. Remember back in 2008, when she said “For the first time in my adult life, I’m really proud of my country,”? Millions of Americans, particularly black Americans, knew exactly what she meant. And it was probably exactly how she felt; but that didn’t stop right-wing media from questioning her patriotism and dedication to the United States. The Obama campaign eventually had to go back and explain what she meant and why it wasn’t a jab at America. You could be sure, as an elected official that moments of unfiltered honesty, would be few and far between, if not completely extinct.
There would be no more calling folks out for attempting to characterize her as an “angry black woman,” because then she’d be playing the “race card.” There would be no more dougie-ing on the White House lawn because that would mean she wasn’t taking her job seriously. There would be fewer shouts out to the Southside of Chicago because she has to be concerned about everybody now. And there would certainly be no more suspected eye rolls to Speaker of the House, John Boehner, no matter how warranted they may have been. As a politician, all of that would be completely unacceptable and cause for constant berating, further stereotyping and even demonization.
Michelle doesn’t need all of that and neither do I.
Furthermore, let’s not pretend that as a politician, Michelle wouldn’t have to get a little dirty. “Scandal” has at least taught us that much. It’s highly unlikely that any politician reaches measures of significant success without having to compromise his or her core beliefs. She’d enter into a game where deals would be made and promises would be broken in exchange for whatever her campaign managers and eventual cabinet deem as “the greater good.” We’ve seen it happen with her husband and Guantanamo, the drones and even, some would argue, the black community. While you can’t convince me that President Obama isn’t the best candidate for the job; from 2008 until now, we’ve experienced a couple of disappointments. I’m really not ready to endure the same with Michelle.
So, for her sake, mine and the rest of the black girls and women who admire the woman we’ve grown to “know” over the past few years, let’s dead the talk of her running for office and keep her and her image real, authentic and honest.