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‘Childish leadership’ has Michelle Obama worried about 2024 election

By Jake Beardslee · January 9, 2024

In brief…

  • Michelle Obama said she's "terrified" about the 2024 election in new interview
  • Emphasized need for thoughtful, compassionate leadership that brings people together
  • Criticized "childish" rhetoric and leadership style
  • Remains highly influential public figure within Democratic Party
In a new interview, Michelle Obama expressed deep worries about the 2024 election and called for national leaders, especially the president, to demonstrate thoughtful and unifying leadership.  Pete Souza/Wikimedia

In a new interview, former First Lady Michelle Obama expressed grave concerns about the 2024 presidential election, saying she is “terrified about what could possibly happen.” Speaking on the “On Purpose” podcast with Jay Shetty, Mrs. Obama said national leaders have an enormous impact on the country and people often underestimate the importance of who holds the “bully pulpit.”

“We cannot take this democracy for granted,” said Mrs. Obama, 59. Along with worries about the election, she listed wars, artificial intelligence, education, technology addiction, and voter engagement as top issues keeping her up at night.

When asked about her famous phrase “when they go low, we go high” from the 2016 DNC, Mrs. Obama emphasized the need for thoughtful, compassionate leadership. “The tone and tenor of the message matters,” she said, adding that authenticity is not just blurting out the first thing that comes to mind. “That is not authenticity to me. That’s childish.”

Though not mentioning any names, Mrs. Obama appeared to condemn the rhetoric and leadership style of former President Donald Trump. “We see childish leadership right before us — what that looks like and how that feels, where somebody is just base, and vulgar and cynical in a leadership position,” she stated. “It doesn’t trickle down well. That just begets more of that.”

Instead, Mrs. Obama argued leaders have an obligation to “model reason, and compassion and empathy.” She said she wants to “resonate good” and bring the country together.

The comments come as former President Barack Obama has reportedly voiced concerns about his successor attempting to return to the White House in 2024.