Fear and Shame: Michelle Obama Brews Up Yet Another Campaign Cocktail

The campaign cocktail recipe for elected officials is so standardized at this point, you can just assume it’s being used without having to listen to campaign speeches. But, just as a representative sample (because you’re not going to get anything else truly representative in any upcoming elections), let’s look at the campaign cocktail of the latest speech from Michelle Obama.

We will consider the three major elements of motivational campaigning: fear and shame. Note that sometimes the spice of “fantasy wish fulfillment” is thrown in, but that’s becoming rarer and rarer. It’s just too positive.


Michelle Obama and other politicians use fear for motivational purposes. In this case, the fear that Republicans will win a majority again (which everyone knows would mean the removal of women’s rights, the re-enslavement of black people, the irrevocable tyranny of greedy corporations, and the ruination of science and then the planet). In Michelle Obama’s fearful words:

See, but then when the midterms came along — which is where we are now — too many of our people just tuned out.  And that’s what folks on the other side are counting on right now, because when we stay home, they win.  So they’re assuming that we won’t care.  They’re hoping and praying that we’re not organized and energized.  But only we can prove them wrong.

“Be afraid. Be very afraid. And vote Democrat.” –Michelle Obama


Michelle Obama also threw in a good bit of shame. In fact, she criticized the Democrat voter base I would say more consistently than she did the Republicans she purportedly opposes. Here are some samples:

. . . When I find people who are like, no, I ain’t going to vote, or I couldn’t wake up, or it doesn’t matter.

You know the people in your neighborhood, in your church, in your family who aren’t focused.

That nephew you know who sleeps — get him up.  Wake him up.  (Laughter.)  Young people, you all know folks who aren’t paying attention.  Your classmates, your dorm mates — wake them up, get them out.

“Be ashamed. Be very ashamed. And vote Democrat.” –Michelle Obama

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