I Miss Barack and Michelle Obama — but Not Their Slander of Young Voters

Everyone’s favorite First Couple continues to underestimate young voters in a way that feels more dangerous than ever

Michael Arceneaux
LEVEL
Published in
6 min readAug 5, 2020

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Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

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If the Obamas want to convince young people to play a greater role in government, smugly suggesting that they don’t know how America works might not be the best use of their talents of persuasion.

Last week, former President Barack Obama joined his wife, former First Lady Michelle Obama, on the premiere episode of The Michelle Obama Podcast; they discussed social justice in the wake of George Floyd’s death, their own paths toward politics and advocacy, and the importance of the younger generation becoming more politically engaged. Michelle Obama spoke with fondness about the young people across the country that have taken to the streets to protest, but expressed lingering concerns about “too many young people who question whether voting, whether politics is worth it.”

Her husband offered an assessment as to why that may be — but it’s one that doesn’t completely respect the intelligence of its intended audience.

“Well, partly because they have been told. The message is sent every day that government doesn’t work,” he explained. “They take for granted all the things that a working government has done in the past… in some ways, we’re still living on the investment that was made by that greatest generation.”

Michelle Obama went on to joke that young people know more about the cereal they are eating than what the government is doing, attributing that to “marketing budgets.” I didn’t laugh, but Barack Obama went on to add: “The danger for this generation is that they have become too deeply cynical in government. Not understanding that all government is us collectively making decisions together.”

Obama may not be the same person who lamented “welfare queens” while in office, but he did share Reagan’s love of austerity to the detriment of the rest of us. That’s…

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Michael Arceneaux
LEVEL

New York Times bestselling author of “I Can’t Date Jesus” and “I Don’t Want To Die Poor.”