Former first lady Michelle Obama spoke at the Culture of Democracy Summit on Monday, where she claimed that democracy in the U.S. is “fading.”
Obama made the remarks as part of the summit’s keynote speech. When We All Vote, is a voting registration campaign started in 2018 with the help of Obama.
The campaign and summit are focused on encouraging voter registration, participation, and activism.
“No one has the luxury to sit out or stay at home just because you’re not feeling excited enough. If you don’t vote, other people will,” Obama said.
“I have said it before, but it’s important for us all to remember it’s not just about who you vote for. It’s not about whether you’re a Republican, Democrat or independent,” said the former first lady.
Obama warned audience members that there might be a discrepancy between how they imagine democracy in the US and the reality of election results.
“This is so much bigger than that, because right now when we look around at everything that is happening with voting and our democracy, it is clear that we’re seeing a deep discrepancy between what we tell ourselves about this country and what we see with our own eyes.”
She additionally made a series of remarks about a “change” in both the conception of US democracy and the way in which voters “participate” in democracy.
“I want to implore every American who cares about our democracy not to just get angry or dejected. I want you to get active,” she said. “We’ve got to change the way we think about our democracy. And we’ve got to change the way we participate in it. Not just every two or four years, but as a routine part of the way we all live.”
Other celebrity guests to the summit included Democratic allies Janelle Monáe, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Selena Gomez.
Obama has redoubled her campaign for voter registration after a Supreme Court draft opinion showed the justices may plan on overturning Roe v. Wade.
“State lawmakers will have the power to strip womxn of the right to make decisions about their bodies and their healthcare,” she wrote in May.
In her larger message, Obama opined on how women may lose rights to make decisions about their own bodies.
“But we don’t have to stand idly by while others try to turn back the clock on progress,” she continued. “I’m so inspired by everyone out marching today. And I know that we’re going to see so many folks carrying this energy forward to the elections in November and in every election after that.”