As the crowded Democratic presidential primary field inches toward Iowa, some Democrats are hoping for a savior candidate to emerge, such as former First Lady Michelle Obama.
Twelve candidates are still running for the Democratic nomination, but all of them have potentially fatal flaws. The two front-runners right now are former Vice President Joe Biden and Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Biden is 77 years old, gaffe prone, and has been in politics for almost half a century. The former vice president has a history of supporting policies that could cause the Democratic base to stay home, including his support for cutting social security, the Iraq War, and certain pro-life policies early in his career. (RELATED: Have Democrats Poisoned The Well On Impeachment?)
The 78-year-old Sanders also has the same age concerns, combined with a history of enraging the Democratic party. Sanders has refused to register as a Democrat throughout the years, remaining an Independent, and proudly referring to himself as a socialist. Other leading candidates such as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Warren has a history of dishonesty and her likeablity remains a serious electoral concern, while Buttigieg is polling extremely poorly among minority candidates.
These realities have ignited speculation on the left and the right that Michelle Obama could seek the White House. After all, the thinking goes, Obama is brilliant, energetic, and beloved by both the party establishment and progressive base. (RELATED: Here Are The Five 2020 Races That Could Determine Control Of The Senate)
Polling has backed this up and demonstrated that Obama is popular among the American people, and would triumph over all the candidates currently running for her party’s nomination. So, what’s the problem with Michelle Obama in 2020?
The main problem is that presidential campaigns are never that simple. After all, Hillary Clinton was the most popular politician in America at one point, and also happens to be married to a popular former president. Yet by the time she faced voters as the Democratic party’s nominee in the 2016 presidential election, she was one of the most unpopular presidential nominees in American history. Such is the nature of U.S. politics, and possibly why Obama has repeatedly made clear that she does not want to run for president. (RELATED: ‘Error’ Page On Trump’s Website Shows Hillary Clinton As President)
Obama appears to understand that having a likeable personality, and being a compelling speaker are not enough to become president, especially in a political era where those traditional traits matter less and less.
“Just because I gave a good speech, I’m smart and intelligent doesn’t mean I should be the next president. That’s not how we should pick the president,” Obama said last month.
Then, there’s also the fact that even if Obama were to join the race tomorrow, she still would not be able to qualify for the ballot in the vast majority of primary states. Obama’s entry this late in the campaign would be unprecedented in modern politics, and she would likely need a contested convention to win a majority of the delegates.
The process that would entail would likely be extremely divisive, and could alienate supporters of other candidates who have been hitting the campaign trail for over a year. This would be especially true if the candidate Obama surpassed at this Summer’s Democratic National Convention was Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Supporters of Sanders are already full of contempt toward the Democratic establishment because of what happened in 2016, and another attempt to cook the books in favor of an establishment candidate at Sanders’ expense could lead to a civil war inside the party, and to the party’s progressive base staying home in November.
Not to mention, while former President Obama is personally popular, the policies of his administration haven’t stood the test of time. The Affordable Care Act was the 44th president’s signature domestic policy achievement, and has largely been undone by the Trump Administration, who successfully repealed the individual mandate as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and is currently appealing to the Supreme Court to throw the rest of the law out following a series of successful lower court rulings. (RELATED: Chief Justice Roberts Has Begun To Make Some Conservatives Nervous)
President Obama’s signature foreign policy achievement was the Iran Nuclear Deal, which was scrapped by Trump in 2018, and the Iranians also announced their intentions earlier this month to officially end compliance with the deal, and begin enriching its uranium.
The Democratic Party was also decimated politically under the Obama administration, losing over 1,000 legislative seats during the eight year period when Obama resided in the White House. This data and Trump’s election suggests that the American people have been able to distinguish Obama the man from Obama the president, and may hold similar attitudes towards the former first lady.
Michelle Obama has repeatedly stated that she does not want to be president, and her husband has said death and taxes are the only two things in life more certain than the Obama’s not returning to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
In a perfect world for Democrats, the former first lady would ride in on a trojan horse to save the party in 2020, but politics simply does not work like that. Michelle Obama may well play a role in the future of the Democratic Party, but she will not be the next president of the United States.