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February 25, 2008

In What America Does Michelle Obama Live?


For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country, because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.


These are not the words found on the message boards of Daily Kos, nor in a press release from Code Pink. They are words uttered only last week by the person who could soon become the First Lady of the United States.


And it wasn’t a slip of the tongue. Later the same day, Michelle Obama repeated the same thought, though this time crediting her newfound pride in America to people being “hungry for change.”


Really, Michelle? You haven’t been proud of your country until your husband started winning primaries?


Rewind to 1964. Michelle Obama was born into a modest home, with her father working as a city water plant employee and her mother as a secretary. Within a few years, she was attending one of the top magnet high schools in the country, and then went to Princeton for college. She topped it all off with another Ivy League degree from Harvard law. She then landed a string of highly desirable jobs, married what would become one of the most successful men in the country, and in 2006 made a total of over $300,000 in income (not counting her husband’s). She has also been named as one of the most influential Harvard alumni of 2006, and one of the 25 most inspiring women in the world by Essence magazine.


In a world where people were starving to death, dying at the hands of dictators, losing family members to wars and being held back by racism and religious intolerance, Michelle Obama was born into a hard-working family that landed her into the American elite by high school.


It is indeed a combination of hard work and luck that got her to where she is today. Had she not studied hard, and had her family not worked hard, Michelle would have been blessed to inherit her mother’s job. Likewise, had the family worked as hard as it did, but was instead living in Mexico, Belarus, the Soviet Union, Iraq, Mali or Bolivia, Michelle would not have done so splendidly.


But no – Michelle Obama was born into the single country in the entire world that would reward her the most for her hard work. America has rewarded her because of the opportunity to do well is nowhere else as prevalent as it is here.


America has treated her as an American, because of a civil rights movement that made it so any member of the human species with U.S. citizenship can say “I am American,” and not be mocked by others. Can you imagine a Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs who is black? Or a Chinese Justice Minister who is Hispanic? Or an Angolan Minister of Labor who is Asian? Can you imagine your reaction to these people merely introducing themselves as citizens of those countries?


America has also provided Michelle with an ideal career because the country is full of entrepreneurs who have used the free market to start companies, hospitals and nonprofits that employ people like her. America has protected her from the evils of the world because millions of heroes risked life and limb – and often lost it – so that historical global threats never have to distract her from her family and job.


And in her entire adult life, until Barack started winning primaries, Michelle didn’t have hope in this country?


America began as a model of freedom and democracy for the world. We defeated colonialism, slavery and fascism. We defeated Hitler’s socialism, Stalin’s communism and the Taliban’s theocracy. We have been behind the overwhelming majority of technological developments in the last 150 years that have fed, cured, transported, entertained and generally improved the standard of living for billions – that’s right, billions – of people, mostly due to our entrepreneurs and the free market.


And Michelle just now realized that Americans are fond of change?


Maybe Michelle Obama has been living somewhere else. Perhaps in a place where her views are so accepted as reality that the extremists at MoveOn endorse her husband (which they did), a place where her supporters applaud enthusiastically when she declares that she hadn’t been proud of her country (which they truly did), and a place where Barack Obama, the man who might become America’s next president, defends his wife’s reprehensible comments (which he certainly did). It is indeed difficult to believe that she has been living in the same America that we know and love.


Nobody knows what other opinions accompany the shameful views that Michelle admitted and Barack defended. But we do know that we must have the audacity to hope that Barack Obama is never in a position to change America for the worse. If he is nominated, we must defeat him. Yes we can.


© 2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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