Michelle Obama as prophet of compassionate family values

First Lady pitch perfect in address to Democratic delegates

CALL HER THE Democrats’ prophet of family values.

With wit and guile, charisma and wisdom, Michelle Obama proved herself worthy of that title last night in her speech to Democratic conventioneers on the first day delegates met in Philadelphia to lift Hillary Clinton to the White House in November.

Her importance as the First Lady of the United States shifted into legacy status as she spoke brilliantly before a rapt audience about her personal history, our national aspiration, race, and the important function of family and faith within the context of democracy.

Michelle lauded Hillary Clinton several times throughout her speech, endorsing her for president, urging listeners to enthusiastically support her candidacy and prevent the election of Donald Trump.

“There is only one person who I trust with the responsibility [of being president] ….  And that is our friend, Hillary Clinton…,” she said in knowing and confident tones. “I am with her.”

At the core of her message were admonitions about race and family — about values and the importance and intimacy of community.

Interspersed between vignettes on the bonding and personal family connections of love, Obama focused on redemption, facing the truths of the past, moving forward after rejection, and the importance of returning insults with acts of grace and forgiveness.

“When they go low, we go high,” she instructed the crowd.

The FLOTUS could neither have been more focused or forceful in her words, which were meant to encourage, provoke thoughtfulness, and inspire the hearts and the better intentions of her listeners. Her comments were enough to make most blacks proud of the importance of the black family unit when so many African-Americans today are born out of wedlock.

Obama talked about the importance raising children to “perfection” and working to ensure the “safety of families.”

She testified to the importance of supporting her husband for “his character and conviction, his decency and his grace, the traits that we’ve seen everyday that he’s served our country in the White House.”

She preached breathlessly about how she and the president have approached raising their daughters, “guid[ing] and protecting our girls…how we urge them to ignore those who question their father’s citizenship and faith.”

In the 1990s, national Republicans vainly sought to offer a platform of family values.

They were attempting to assume the role of political agents who were advancing party domestic purity. They were seeking to offer the nation a civic blueprint based on a combination of fundamentalist church dogma and civic mindedness.

Meet the Author

Meet the Author

With those lofty aims of family vales in mind, the Republicans in the past were never as good as Michelle was last night.

Kevin Peterson is founder of the New Democracy Coalition, which focuses on civic literacy, civic policy and electoral justice. Darnell Williams is president of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts. They are coauthoring commentary pieces on the impact urban issues are having on the Republican and Democratic national conventions.