The tremendous story of Michelle Obama’s family that she told so eloquently last night at the DNC convention should resonate with everyone here in Milwaukee. After all, many of us are familiar with the South Side of Chicago a mere 100 miles away. Although on a much larger and denser scale, the South Side of Chicago is not that different from the North Side of Milwaukee. To succeed – much less excel – from that depressed, heavily-segregated part of the city is a remarkable achievement of not only her but her entire family.
Tell me again how "elitist" this up-from-nothing woman is, as she worked her way from the South Side to Harvard, a big law firm and, ultimately, public service. Tell me again how she is a product of privilege when her hard-working father, a city worker, struggled just to get out of bed with his deteriorating MS that took him too young. No welfare, food stamps or handouts for this family – everyone in it got what they had and what they have through hard work, determination and, yes, faith.
And the extraordinary talents of Michelle Obama were on full display as she delivered her compelling story on this week’s biggest stage. She is the model of the modern professional woman – strong in her own right, but stronger still in an obviously equal partnership with Barack in raising a family and trying to affect real change. In this campaign, she and Barack are seizing the opportunity to live their dream of developing a more-perfect nation; not out of a sense of entitlement, but of duty. One of the most interesting parts of the biopic was the fact that her mother and father implored her not to abandon the community in which she grew up, as too many before her had done and continue to do. So she didn’t, and the South Side of Chicago is a better place for her commitment to her home.
Imagine such a story coming out of the North Side of Milwaukee. There are, of course, many such stories, told in smaller forums; less noticed, perhaps, but no less inspiring. If this kind of against-all-odds success resulted in the emergence of a conservative star, we would never hear the end of his or her accomplishments, regardless of what college, law school or right-wing think tank they ended up in. Instead, with Michelle Obama, the Republicans have created out of whole cloth a caricature, a cartoon figure; as if she were born in Harvard Yard, taken in and raised by ‘60s radicals and committed to a subversive campaign to destroy the American Way.
Michelle Obama spoke not only with passion but with joy about her success and that of others in her family. She came before the nation last night fully-formed and in full, beautiful flower – much more so than Hillary Clinton when she was first introduced to us as the Accomplished Spouse in 1992. Regardless of what happens in this campaign, Michelle will be just as much of a force for positive change as her husband. I can’t wait to see what she can do.