Does the First Lady really make the President?

2014-05-07 02:59

The First Lady of the United States is the host of the White House, advisor to the President, and often plays a role in social activism. The position is traditionally held by the wife of the President concurrent with his term in office.

Being a consistent follower of the hit show 'The Fixer', I keep on questioning the importance of “Millie”, or better yet, realistically Michelle Obama in the White House. Being someone who lives and sleeps politics, I'm curious to identify and quantify the importance of the 'First Lady'. I know it might not be the case in South Africa, due to the fact that the family of our President isn’t covered by the media as closely as it is in the States, but obviously the 'First Lady' does play a role in establishing the characteristics and qualities the President needs before he enters the position of President.

I read an article a while back about Michelle Obama and a previous boyfriend. She was asked what would have happened if she had have stayed with him instead of Barack and she answered “He would [have] become the President of the United States of America” - Now that’s powerful. But is this really true? Can the potential 'First Lady' make an everyday man become the President of a country purely due to the role she plays in his life? I have noticed just by watching The Fixer that the First Lady can arrange and finalise agreements between the State and, for example, a union, on behalf of the President. She can improve relations with other countries, delegates and ambassadors. Clearly that’s the founded unofficial role of a First Lady, but what else does she do for the President?

Looking at the United States when basing my decision, I strongly believe that she needs to be someone who pushes the potential President before he even gets into office; she needs to advise him and constantly engage in highly stimulating conversations. I know that under normal circumstances, or within normal households, it has been decided that it is best to keep work away from your personal life, but I can really see that in this case, the First Lady needs to incorporate her husband’s work life with their personal life.

I question the idea of having this type of lifestyle between a husband and wife in South Africa and whether or not it could work (not only having the President and his wife as the royalty of the country but also as a celebrity power couple, similar to Michelle and Barack in the States). Obviously earning the status of a celebrity power couple will mean that not only will their political views and decisions be criticized or praised, but also their personal views on anything and everything. By them earning such a status and their lives being put on public display, we can get to understand our President and First Lady and from this, be able to make a reasonable decision as to whether we love or hate them.

I sometimes think that as young people, seeing our President giving speeches and attending major events isn’t enough. We want to engage with our President, in the same way that Obama spends certain amounts of time with everyday citizens, talking to them, playing a game of basketball with them and so forth. We need a President that will interact with his people. We want that. We need that. Our president must be available to the public and if he cannot be then the First Lady should be.

Our young women and girls need a role model to look up to and just like the States has Michelle, we need a First Lady that is credible, successful, ambitious and modern but at the same time is a people’s person. Imagine going to do a motivational talk at a primary school in Alexandra or Sandton, asking our young girls who do they want to be like when they grow up and they all mention the First Lady. We are living in a country where women are respected and celebrated. Our policies are constantly being improved to support and implement women involvement in numerous industries in South Africa. That is great and I have to applaud the ruling party in this regard. But we need to take it one step further and have a First Lady that can be the role model to millions of young girls in South Africa and all around the world. Better yet, maybe we should consider a female President.

I encourage all you future potential Presidents out there to start identifying potential First Lady’s as they will in some way make you into the President our country needs. Look for all the relevant qualities and characteristics in her. Those characteristics will indirectly polish you into a finished product.

So I ask the President, can you give us a First Lady that our country can look at as an amazing role model for the millions of young girls out there?

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