If you thought that the re-election of President Barack Obama marked a time of rest, think again. First Lady Michelle Obama is prepared to challenge anyone thinking along those lines. The first lady talked to Tom and Sybil today about the election and why the push forward is just beginning.
Read the full transcript below:
MRS. OBAMA: Tom Joyner! (Laughter.) Good, it’s the whole crew. Who do we have? Do we have Sybil?
SYBIL WILKES: Yes, ma’am. Good morning, how are you?
MRS. OBAMA: Good. I’m doing great.
TOM JOYNER: Mrs. Obama, aren’t you proud of us? Of the work we did?
MRS. OBAMA: Oh, man — (laughter.)
TOM JOYNER: Oh, man. Our people were fired up. I was worried at first. I’ll tell you the truth, Mrs. Obama, I was worried about our people.
MRS. OBAMA: It’s becoming a habit. Justice and rights — people like having the right to vote. Folks in our community, we like being a part of this process.
TOM JOYNER: And I don’t think we got that, really. Our people didn’t get that until maybe like September, because our 1-888-MY-VOTE-1 number going along had — getting about 2,000 calls a month. And then, in September, it spiked to like 15,000, 20,000 calls, and then come October and November it was even more than that. And we were registering people and telling people where they could vote and early vote. And then it was just — it seemed the more people vote, the more people were telling us not to vote –
SYBIL WILKES: Or how to prevent us from voting.
MRS. OBAMA: That’s right.
TOM JOYNER: Yeah, but the more we got fired up — and we did the darn thing. I’m so proud of us.
MRS. OBAMA: Yeah, don’t mess with our right to vote. Don’t do it. But one of the many reasons I’m calling is to thank you all personally, because the hotline — just the tenacity, the everyday focus on issues, calling stuff out, making it funny but still being on point — I mean, that makes a huge difference of just keeping people focused.
And your voices are so important, I just can’t — I mean, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t listen to the Tom Joyner Morning Show, who isn’t cracking up on everything from Kanye to you know. But we tune in to hear the relevance of what’s going on in the world on so many different levels. And you just have to keep being there, because the battles are not over. That’s just really the important thing to continue to stress, that we cannot do what we did in 2008, which is vote and then go back to sleep — because the real work is coming up.
We’ve got a fiscal cliff crisis going on. We’ve got to deal with our education system. We have to deal with the environment. We need comprehensive immigration reform. All of that has to happen. And we’re dealing with — four years is not a lot of time. And the truth is, is that we’ve got two strong years where we’ve got to get a lot done, which means that people have to stay focused on what’s going on because it’s easy to get confused in all the back and forth that goes on. And that’s a whole lot of not-truth-telling that happens, if you know what I mean.
So we have a solid victory under our belt, but we are nowhere near finished.
SYBIL WILKES: You got in trouble a while ago, during the first election, when you said you were really proud to be an American. But it really was — this second election — this reelection cycle was really one of those, I think, where people really felt that they were –
TOM JOYNER: Patriotic.
SYBIL WILKES: — very patriotic, Mrs. Obama.
MRS. OBAMA: Yes. And everybody stepped up. I mean, the 4 percent increase in voting in the African American community shocked a lot of people. And I think that’s another message that we have to understand — we have so much power in the vote. We have so much power. I mean, this was an election where people poured millions of dollars into the other side – millions. Unprecedented amounts of money were being spent on advertising, negative advertising. Voter suppression was in full force in so many states all over this country. Yet what wins out is people just going to the polls and voting. In the end, that is how this democracy works, and that’s really just the message.
There are more of us who want — know what the country should look like, who understand what fairness means and opportunity, who are willing to fight for it for more people, open that door of opportunity even wider. There are more of us than we know. And if we vote and when we vote, the right thing happens.
So I just want — I want people to continue to feel empowered in that way, and I want them to feel empowered in their local communities when it comes time to vote for their mayors and their governors, and who is in the state legislature to understand –