For the second night in a row, the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday prominently featured a speaker whose life and interests seem to range — gasp! — beyond politics.
On Monday night, it was Michelle Obama. The former first lady endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden while making it clear that she doesn’t much love the whole business of electioneering. “You know I hate politics,” she said. “But you also know that I care about this nation.”
Her speech was followed on Tuesday with a primetime appeal from Jill Biden, the nominee’s wife. Jill Biden didn’t explicitly state her disinterest in politics, but she has shown by her example over the years. She kept her teaching job when her husband was vice president, instead of giving up her career to support his work and ambitions. And she said this week she plans to keep teaching even if he wins the November election.
Joe Biden seems okay with this: “Teaching is not what Jill does,” he said. “It is who she is.”
The indifference to all things Beltway seems to perplex some pundits, who of course spend their days and lives obsessing about this stuff. David Brooks, the New York Times columnist, criticized Obama’s speech because “politics is not something to be hated but something to be done, and if possible to be done well.”
Perhaps. But lots of Americans aren’t that interested: Less than two-thirds of eligible voters went to the polls in 2016. And plenty more do vote, but don’t love the choices they have been given. That matters. In 2016, a significant slice of voters hated both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton — and that group voted for Trump. This year, lots of voters hate both Trump and Biden, but polls show they’re leaning for the Democrat this time.
Which means there is an audience of voters who don’t love the electoral process, but do their duty — and then get on with their lives. Jill Biden and Michelle Obama are the Democratic Party’s emissaries to those voters. Joel Mathis