Former First Lady Michelle Obama is championing a message of political unity as she focuses her efforts on furthering the education of adolescent women across the globe via the Obama Foundation’s Girls Opportunity Alliance.
Amid her global educational mission, Obama discussed her bipartisan friendship with former President George W. Bush with none other than his daughter, Jenna Bush Hager. Speaking to the Today show host, Obama told Hager that, despite their obvious political differences, she probably has more common values than differences with the former president.
‘Our values are the same,” Obama noted. “We disagree on policy, but we don’t disagree on humanity. We don’t disagree about love and compassion. I think that’s true for all of us. It’s just that we get lost in our fear of what’s different.”
Given their status as both “former” occupants of the White House, Obama and W. Bush often find themselves at the same gatherings, such as the late Senator John McCain’s funeral. Obama even described the former two-term Republican president as “my partner in crime… we’re together all the time” at formal functions.
“I had the opportunity to sit by your father at funerals,” Obama told Bush Hager, where they bonded over “the highs and the lows,” their mutual conversations often involving anecdotes about their respective parents and children. They’ve also shared more light-hearted moments, such as the tradition whereby W. Bush provides the former first lady with a mint–a gesture first offered at McCain’s funeral and later at George H.W. Bush’s.
According to Obama, this unexpected friendship should serve as a model to anyone with strongly-held political beliefs, especially the younger generation that often seeks to silence one another’s beliefs rather than engage in dialogue.
“This generation coming up, I think they know more than what we did,” Obama observed. “While one can argue that social media is problematic, it’s also opening people up to new ideas, to each other, to parts of the world,” she continued. However, with this new access to information, the former first lady encouraged young people to “be more open-minded and secure in who they are so that they can welcome other people’s stories into the mix.”
“But,” she reasoned, “it has to begin with us.”
Written by Red Blue Divide editorial staff.