Michelle Obama Shares With Shonda Rhimes Why Voting Matters

Shonda Rhimes and Michelle Obama at the Pennsylvania Conference For Women 2017
Marla Aufmuth/Getty Images for Pennsylvania Conference for Women

In a new Q&A with Shonda Rhimes, the former first lady responds to those who feel voting doesn't affect them.

Michelle Obama is explaining the importance of every single vote. In a new Q&A with writer and producer Shonda Rhimes for Harper's Bazaar, the former first lady responds to those who feel voting doesn't directly affect them.

Obama breaks it down for the younger generation with a simple analogy.

"But for me, when I'm talking to young people, I like to ask them a simple question: Would you let your grandma decide what you wear on a night out to the club?" she asks. "Would you want her picking out the car you drive or the apartment you live in? Not many people want someone else making their decisions for them, especially when that person might not see the world the same way as they do. That's what happens when you don't vote: You are giving away your power to someone else -- someone who doesn't see the world the same as you. You're letting them make some really key decisions about the way you live."

"And the truth is, that's exactly what some folks are hoping you'll do," she continues. "They're hoping that you’ll stay home so that they can make these important decisions for you."

Obama points out that voting is so much more important than simply supporting a specific candidate, but actually has real-life consequences in one's local community.

"It's great to feel inspired by candidates and the visions they put forth, but it is by no means a prerequisite to casting a ballot," she notes. "Because at the end of the day, someone is going to be making the decisions about how much money your schools get and how tax money is distributed. Voting gives you a say in those matters."

"It can also be your way of saying that you care about your community and the people in it, that you are going to keep showing up and making your voice heard, even when the candidates don't set your heart on fire," she adds. "Because if you wait for that to happen, you might be waiting a long time. And meanwhile, the world moves on without you. But when we all vote, in all elections, we get the kind of responsive leadership that speaks for our families and our communities."

Obama says the current coronavirus pandemic in particular has stressed the importance of voting.

"It showed us just how important it is to have competent leaders in office -- leaders who prioritize their citizens' well-being over their own poll numbers," she says. "We have all sorts of examples right now of that leadership in action and its effect on our daily lives. So every single person out there needs to ask themselves, do they trust the folks in charge to make the right call? Whether it's school boards or statehouses or those in Washington -- are my neighborhood's interests being represented, or are they being ignored? They're questions we should be asking every year, in every election, and at every level of government. Because when a crisis hits, there are no do-overs."

Earlier this month, both Obama and her husband, former President Barack Obama, gave inspiring commencement speeches for YouTube's Dear Class of 2020. During her heartfelt speech, the mother of two got emotional over the Black Lives Matter movement and all the protests against police brutality and racial injustice following George Floyd's death.

"For those of you who feel invisible, please know that your story matters," she said. "Your ideas matter. Your experience matters. Your vision for what the world can and should be matters. So, don't ever, ever let anyone tell you that you're too angry, or that you should keep your mouth shut. There will always be those who want to keep you silent, to have you be seen but not heard. Maybe they don't even want to see you at all. But those people don't know your story, and if you listen to them, then nothing will ever change."

"It's up to you to speak up against cruelty, dishonesty, bigotry, all of it," she continued. "It's up to you to march hand in hand with your allies, to stand peacefully with dignity and purpose on the front line in the fight for justice. And here's the last part: it's up to you to couple every protest with plans and policies, with organizing and mobilizing and voting."

Watch the video below for more: