With fewer than 40 days remaining as first lady, Michelle Obama is continuing to reflect on the legacy she and President Obama will leave after having occupied the White House for the last eight years. In a new interview with Oprah Winfrey, the first lady addressed the election outcome and suggested that the U.S. is entering a time of hopelessness.
“We are feeling what not having hope feels like,” Obama told Winfrey in response to a question about whether President Obama had achieved the “hope and change” he promised while campaigning in 2008. As she often did while campaigning for Hillary Clinton, she didn’t mention President-elect Donald Trump by name. But she alluded to the contrast many in the country are feeling since he won the election last month. “We feel the difference now,” she said, noting that her husband had succeeded in keeping his campaign promise of fostering hope. “Hope is necessary. It’s a necessary concept,” she elaborated. “And Barack didn’t just talk about hope because he thought it was a nice slogan to get votes. He and I and so many believed that … what else do you have if you don’t have hope? What do you give your kids if you can’t give them hope?”
Those are philosophical questions that the nation will no doubt begin to grapple with in earnest over the coming months. And they’re not the first contemplative remarks the first lady, who has earned a special place in Americans’ hearts, has made recently. Last week, she reportedly left White House staffers in tears after a heartfelt thank you speech at a holiday party. And in an interview that appears in the December issue of Vogue, she expressed mixed feelings about leaving the White House, ultimately concluding, “I’m going to miss waking up to this, having access to this anytime I want. But on the flip side … it’s time.”