At the 2016 Democratic National Convention, then-First Lady Michelle Obama famously said, "When they go low, we go high." It was a call for Democrats to maintain a level of rhetoric worthy of such consequential matters as the presidential election, despite the constant attacks and low blows from Republicans, led by then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
As history remembers, President Donald Trump defeated Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton later that year in a victory that few expected.
On January 20th, 2017, Michelle Obama and her husband, then-President Barack Obama, greeted the Trumps at the entrance to the White House. Hours later, Trump was inaugurated and the Obamas left the White House as private citizens.
Four years later, Trump is refusing to accept that President-elect Joe Biden defeated him in the 2020 presidential election. Trump's administration has kneecapped Biden's attempts to work with them for an efficient and strategic transition of power.
In addition to filing numerous lawsuits across multiple states alleging voting improprieties, Trump has unleashed a stream of lies on his Twitter account about widespread voter fraud orchestrated by Democrats, tipping the election to Biden.
Trump's efforts almost certainly won't succeed at gaining him a second term, but these efforts are already eroding the trust in American democracy among his supporters.
Concerned at Trump's efforts to undermine the country's democratic integrity, Mrs. Obama recalled the January day in 2017 when she and President Obama went high instead of low for the good of this institution.
The former First Lady called out Trump in a lengthy Instagram post.
She wrote about not letting her disappointment in the 2016 outcome cloud their obligations:
"I was hurt and disappointed—but the votes had been counted and Donald Trump had won. The American people had spoken. And one of the great responsibilities of the presidency is to listen when they do. So my husband and I instructed our staffs to do what George and Laura Bush had done for us: run a respectful, seamless transition of power—one of the hallmarks of American democracy."
And spoke candidly about her own resentment of Trump:
"I have to be honest and say that none of this was easy for me. Donald Trump had spread racist lies about my husband that had put my family in danger. That wasn't something I was ready to forgive. But I knew that, for the sake of our country, I had to find the strength and maturity to put my anger aside."
Noting that "our democracy is so much bigger than anybody's ego," Mrs. Obama concluded with:
"To ... play along with these groundless conspiracy theories—whether for personal or political gain—is to put our country's health and security in danger. This isn't a game. So I want to urge all Americans, especially our nation's leaders, regardless of party, to honor the electoral process and do your part to encourage a smooth transition of power, just as sitting presidents have done throughout our history."
People applauded her unequivocal rebuke.
She isn't the only one warning of the threat Trump's delusion poses to faith in the nation's centuries-old electoral system.
Trump's last day in office is January 20th.