Michelle Obama just returned to politics with an incredibly powerful message.
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Politicians are always telling us to vote without understanding why so many of us don’t. Michelle Obama gets it.

In a video about the importance of voting in the 2018 midterm elections, Michelle Obama first wants to make it clear she understands all too well why a majority of Americans don’t vote -- numbers that spike even higher during “off year” non-presidential elections.

“Why should I vote? Nothing ever changes,” she begins in a new PSA for the When We All Vote initiative. “The system is rigged. Why bother?”


“Whether you’re trying to get dinner on the table after a double shift, dropping baby off with grandma or studying for exams, voting can feel like the furthest thing from your mind.”

“You might even feel like it’s just not worth it. But that’s exactly what some people want you to think.”

Voting is a burden but it’s also a right and the only path toward making our country, and our lives, better for everyone.

Michelle Obama is a Democrat. That’s not exactly breaking news. But her message on the importance of voting should be heard by everyone because no matter where you fall on the political spectrum, the best way to get your ideas and values into the conversation and into action is by being an active citizen. Our leaders are meant to lead but they can only lead when we appoint them to do so through the power of the vote.

With more Americans working, and often working longer hours for less wages, making a trip to the polls doesn’t necessarily feel like a priority. The irony is that in all elections, but particularly in local and midterm elections, we have the power to directly affect change at the state and local level.

And even if it’s hard to measure the positive change of putting some people into office and kicking others out, the impact of not participating in our democracy is even more subtle yet profound in how it affects our lives.

“The truth is, when we stay home, things stay the same. Or, they get worse,” Obama says.

“But when we all vote, we get new ideas and new energy,” she adds. “Leaders who share our values and listen to our voices. That’s how we change America.”

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As millions of Americans have raced to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, millions of others have held back. Vaccine hesitancy is nothing new, of course, especially with new vaccines, but the information people use to weigh their decisions matters greatly. When choices based on flat-out wrong information can literally kill people, it's vital that we fight disinformation every which way we can.

Researchers at the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a not-for-profit non-governmental organization dedicated to disrupting online hate and misinformation, and the group Anti-Vax Watch performed an analysis of social media posts that included false claims about the COVID-19 vaccines between February 1 and March 16, 2021. Of the disinformation content posted or shared more than 800,000 times, nearly two-thirds could be traced back to just 12 individuals. On Facebook alone, 73% of the false vaccine claims originated from those 12 people.

Dubbed the "Disinformation Dozen," these 12 anti-vaxxers have an outsized influence on social media. According to the CCDH, anti-vaccine accounts have a reach of more than 59 million people. And most of them have been spreading disinformation with impunity.

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The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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