Remember way back when Donald Trump called Mexicans rapists? Or when he said we should ban Muslims? Or when he said he’d thought about dating his daughter? Or when he mocked a disabled reporter? Or when he called women ugly, pigs, and slobs? Or when he gleefully bragged about sexually assaulting women?

It was an exhausting election cycle. It was exhausting to watch Hillary Clinton fight off attack after attack on everything from her laugh to her husband. It was exhausting to watch the Republicans play an endless game of cat and mouse, refusing to choose whether or not to stand with their candidate. It was exhausting to watch that candidate pathetically defend himself with the words “locker room talk,” over and over again.

But what was most exhausting and infuriating is listening to people say that Donald Trump “had a good debate” or a “good week” simply because he strung a sentence or two together and managed to keep it vaguely insult-free. It is exhausting to listen to people excuse and skirt around any real criticism of his behavior.

Yet every time it seems as though it cannot get any worse, there has been a light in the shadows of hate, bigotry, racism, and sexism. After the circus that was the Republican National Convention and the first days of the DNC that were riddled with tension over Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s resignation, Michelle Obama came forward and said:

“I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves and I watch my daughters –- two beautiful, intelligent, black young women –- playing with their dogs on the White House lawn. And because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters –- and all our sons and daughters -– now take for granted that a woman can be President of the United States.”

It was like a breath of fresh air. In one of the highest rated speeches of the convention, Michelle eloquently and passionately put to bed the concerns of the “Bernie or Busters” and, more importantly, drew an incredibly evident contrast between our side and theirs. While Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump whipped their crowds into frenzies of “lock her up!” madness, Michelle Obama floated above it all, declaring “When they go low, we go high.”

After trying our hardest to wrap our minds around the fact that our “new normal” is a presidential-elect who brags about groping and kissing women without their consent, we were reminded by Michelle that this is not and should not be normal.

First Lady Michelle Obama speaking in New Hampshire on Thursday, October 13th // Source: hillaryclinton.com

First Lady Michelle Obama speaking in New Hampshire on Thursday, October 13th // Source: hillaryclinton.com

She cut sharply through the absurdity that is the conversation surrounding Trump’s video in the clearest and most powerful words possible: “The measure of any society is how it treats its women and girls,” and “Our leaders should meet basic standards of human decency.” Plain and simple. In a rousing speech at a rally in New Hampshire on October 13th, she reminded us exactly what was at stake in this election. She destroyed the excuses of those who may have been teetering on the edge of protest voting or staying at home by speaking directly to their consciences:

“We all know that if we let Hillary’s opponent win this election, that we are sending a clear message to our kids that everything they’re seeing and hearing is perfectly okay. We are validating it. We are endorsing it. We are telling our sons that it’s okay to humiliate women. We are telling our daughters that this is how they deserve to be treated.”

Michelle Obama is not only a great orator and the voice we always need to hear in this miserable election, but also one of the most incredible first ladies we’ve ever had. Not only was she her husband’s mentor at the law firm where they met, she has also spent her entire career advocating for the poor, women, and children, and has done significant work in creating a health initiative for people across the country. She is intelligent, enormously talented, a style icon, and a beacon of light and grace in these tough times.

This article is all to say: #Michelle2020.

Grace Perret