The First Lady: US Campaigns and Elections

Over centuries, the role of the First Lady has significantly evolved to reflect current political realities and expectations of the public. Currently, being the First Lady, as it is, is an unpaid position in which the Lady is required to work with some staff members to hold duties related to the White House hostess and advance some vital agendas in society, normally related to children and women. The Web site, First Ladies (, has been chosen to reflect the roles of the First Ladies in US politics, which is important for this topic. The standard narrative goes that when Americans elect their presidents, they also elect their wives by default to influence and represent the country in some ways. The American presidential campaign of 1960 was considered as a new front in the role of First Ladies in the US campaigns and elections. It is argued that First Ladies who have served after this period have generally played critical roles in getting their spouses elected as presidents and striving to ensure the success of incumbents’ administrations. Despite their notable differences in their power and influence, First Ladies have been viewed based on their values to their husbands’ efforts to succeed politically (Kantor 1).

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More than fifty years, Lady Bird changed the role of First Lady from the White House hostess to a major political powerhouse (Neath 1). Presently, this role has become even more prominent. Specifically, First Ladies have played significant roles in campaigning in areas where the president cannot. For instance, when it was thought that it was risky for Lyndon Johnson to campaign in the South, Lady Bird Johnson campaigned without her husband across several towns. To this end, this marked the emergence of First Ladies or women as major political actors in presidential campaigns rather than being seen on the edge of contests. Most recently, when President Obama was experiencing a low approval rating, he was largely absent from the campaign, leaving this role to Michelle, who attended multiple rallies, round table talks, and fundraisers. In addition, one cannot underestimate the role that Michelle’s DNC speech of 2008, the one plagiarized by Melania Trump, played in the election of President Obama (Roberts and Jacobs 1). In these recent developments, the rise of Hillary Clinton as a First Lady and now a potential female president could change the equation of the role of the First Lady in US history (Goff 1; Brown 1).

The ongoing engagement of First Ladies in presidential campaigns and elections reflects changes in society. For instance, First Ladies who have hit campaign trails for their husbands are generally educated, born in the period of women’s consciousness, and held some professional jobs. Moreover, the media have played critical roles in dragging them to the spotlight. Today, women, growingly aware of potential political solutions to their issues, have looked for First Ladies for assistance and as examples. It remains difficult to determine how exactly First Ladies influence public policy or the extent to which presidents seek counsel from their wives. Modern First Ladies have demonstrated that they are able political actors who can influence regions where their husbands have failed (Fieldstadt and Welker 1). Michelle Obama, for instance, has initiated several projects, including Let’s Move!, Joining Forces, Reach Higher, and Let Girls Learn. These roles show that citizens no longer want their First Ladies to play White House hostess alone and look pretty for the media. Instead, First Ladies are now expected to engage in current affairs and support some public projects that impact citizens. The Web site is notably useful for providing a history of and initiatives advanced by First Ladies. However, the Web site does not provide a critical analysis of the role of First Ladies in the US presidential campaigns and elections, and, therefore, it is not sufficient as a tool for learning about US politics.

Works Cited

Brown, Emily. “What are we going to call Bill Clinton if Hillary is elected president?” USA Today. 2016. Web.

Fieldstadt, Elisha and Kristen Welker. “Better Half: First Lady Campaigns Where the President Has Not.” 2014. Web.

Goff, Keli. “We Shouldn’t Have First Ladies.” The Daily Beast. 2015. Web.

Kantor, Jodi. “First Lady Strives for Caring Image Above Partisan Fray.” The New York Times. 2012. Web.

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Neath, Scarlet. “What’s the Point of a First Lady?” The Atlantic. 2014. Web.

Roberts, Dan and Ben Jacobs. “Melania Trump plagiarism scandal threatens to overshadow nomination.” The Guardian. 2016. Web.

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StudyCorgi. "The First Lady: US Campaigns and Elections." April 14, 2021.


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