Michelle Obama asks us to see the election through the eyes of a child

Children on the Ballot

When Michelle Obama closed out the first night of the first virtual national convention last night, her fiery speech centered on the idea of empathy. She encouraged her virtual audience to commit themselves to the cause of voting, in spite of unprecedented obstacles that face us all this year.

She also encouraged us all to see this election through the eyes of a child. She said,

Like so many of you, Barack and I have tried our best to instill in our girls a strong moral foundation to carry forward the values that our parents and grandparents poured into us. But right now, 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.

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.

With schools in chaos and families struggling to maintain some kind of normal, it’s never been more important for voters to consider our children’s perspective in all of this. Children can’t vote. They don’t have super PACs. which may be why they only receive a fraction (7.2% to be exact) of the nation’s federal budget despite being 25% of the population.

Imagine what the world would look like if politicians, especially those seeking the highest offices in our land, pursued an agenda and proposed policies that had the best interest of the child in mind. If they were forced to make a commitment to children. The data is overwhelming. Children who receive high-quality early education are more successful and healthier adults. Children who receive high-quality health care from a young age are better students. And children who grew up in households that are supported by a living wage benefit from decreased stress levels, improved relationships, and stronger chances of upward mobility.

That’s why we launched the #Commit2Kids Campaign, and that’s why we’re encouraging all voters to think about those who can’t vote and to demand that our leaders #Commit2Kids. As the former First Lady said,

If we want to keep the possibility of progress alive in our time, if we want to be able to look our children in the eye after this election, we have got to reassert our place in American history.

In one of the more stinging critiques of the current political climate, the First Lady turns President Trump’s own words on him, saying, “It is what it is.” But our future doesn’t have to be what it is right now. We can change it. But first, we need to #Commit2Kids.