Help Us, Michelle Obama 2020, You're Our Only Hope

In the wake of the 2016 election, it's understandable that heartbroken progressive Americans are looking for any sign of hope on the horizon. Countless pollsters and the media at large predicted a historic victory for Hillary Clinton, touted as the most qualified candidate ever to run for president. But the nation's electoral system instead selected a self-proclaimed tax-evading, alleged pussy-grabbing millionaire who has never held public office. Staring down the barrel of four years under our new misogynist-in-chief, perhaps it's no surprise that several efforts have sprung up trying to convince outgoing First Lady Michelle Obama to run for president in 2020. Regardless of whether Obama is likely to heed the calls, it's soothing to think about the prospect of our favorite First Family returning to the White House. But it isn't especially likely to happen.

Both President and Mrs. Obama have repeatedly stated that the First Lady has no intention of running for any political office, let alone for the highest office in the land. Speaking to Rolling Stone the day after Trump was named president-elect, Obama bluntly dismissed any speculation about his wife's political future. "Michelle will never run for office," the president said, before going on to call his wife "as talented a person as I know," who is also "too sensible to want to be in politics."

Just one week after the election, Obama herself demurred when a supporter asked that she run for president. Speaking at the White House during an event to raise awareness for veteran homelessness, someone in the audience shouted to the first lady. Her response was kind, but noncommittal.

But that hasn't deterred at least three Michelle-Obama-focused political action committees that have registered with the Federal Election Commission since Election Day. Washington, D.C. publication The Hill reports that the first of those super PACs is called Ready for Michelle, and is structured so that it can raise unlimited amounts of money from donors. That super PAC has already launched a petition to encourage Obama to run. The other PACs are called Ready for Michelle 2020 and Friends of Michelle 2020.

Those PACs reflect what appears to be a growing trend in the ongoing experiment that is American democracy. If a citizen-led effort to convince a powerful woman to run for the presidency seems familiar, it should: A multi-pronged 2015 effort unsuccessfully tried to draft Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren into this year's presidential race.

During the early stages of the 2015 primaries, Warren was the subject of at least two different efforts to convince her to run for president. Like Obama, Warren said she was not interested in pursuing the Oval Office at the time, but that didn't stop thousands from signing petitions and raising money to try to persuade the Massachusetts senator.

One of those campaigns, called "Run Warren Run," was spearheaded by Democracy for America and the PAC of progressive organizing site When it became clear that Warren would not be running for president, the organization that launched the effort to draft her, Ready for Warren, surveyed its members, rebranded as "Ready to Fight," and backed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the primary.


So even if Michelle Obama and Warren have both declined to run for president, the sentiment underlying the calls for them to do so persists. Although she has yet to be sworn in as California's junior senator, former Attorney General Kamala Harris is already being floated as a potential 2020 contender, notes Fortune magazine. And amid the election of Donald Trump, Americans also sent a record number of women — particularly women of color — to Congress.

To anyone hoping that Trump's bro-tastic regime would silence the dissent of more than half the country's residents who happen to identify as women — don't bet on it. As Hillary Clinton taught us, we really are stronger together.