Michelle Obama is still right

In "The Art of War," Sun Tzu wrote, "If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you wi...

Posted: Oct 12, 2018 10:25 PM
Updated: Oct 12, 2018 10:25 PM

In "The Art of War," Sun Tzu wrote, "If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat." But what happens if you know the enemy but not yourself? Sun Tzu didn't address this, but lately Democrats sure have.

In 2016 Michelle Obama said this at the 2016 Democratic National Convention: "When someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don't stoop to their level. No, our motto is, when they go low, we go high."

Donald Trump

Michelle Obama

Political Figures - US

This week, former Attorney General Eric Holder offered an amendment: The saying for Democrats today should be, "When they go low, we kick them." Hillary Clinton also spoke out against civility in this moment, saying, "You cannot be civil with" the Republican Party because it "wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about."

I'm not with her. Or him. I'm still with Michelle Obama.

Michelle Obama is still with herself, too, apparently, as she said this week on the "Today" show in response to Holder's remarks. What matters is "the messages that we send," she said. "If we're the adults and the leaders in the room, and we're not showing that level of decency, we cannot expect our kids to do the same."

What Obama is really talking about here are values -- the ideas and ideals we convey to those around us, young and old, by how we talk and behave. And Democrats and liberals in general must not let their values be defined by Donald Trump and Republicans in this moment.

Ours cannot be a "they started it" morality -- where we're on our high horse until someone drags us down in the dirt. If we believe in respect and decency and civility and radical kindness, then we must act with respect and decency and civility and radical kindness regardless of how the "other side" is behaving. Values don't bend with the political wind. Values are what define us. No matter the storms.

When Michelle Obama originally said "When they go low, we go high," it was in the throes of the 2016 presidential campaign amid Trump's repeated hate mongering, and pretty much everyone left of center cheered. Not just because it was the right stance, presumably, but also because we thought it would work.

That decency would defeat hate. It didn't. And though obviously there were plenty of other variables in Trump's victory and Clinton's defeat, it raises the question, do we only believe the high road is the right choice if it leads to victory? Are our principles that conditional?

Sun Tzu also said, "If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles."

If we know that we believe in civility and radical kindness -- and continue to show it, in spite of the nastiness and cruelty of our opposition -- then we may suffer some defeats, but we ultimately win the war. And, perhaps most importantly, along the way we help create a politics and culture worth fighting for.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 261167

Reported Deaths: 5713
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17561191
Hinds16687329
Harrison14050202
Rankin11102217
Jackson10729188
Lee9014143
Madison8495168
Jones6607114
Forrest6135122
Lauderdale6067192
Lowndes5490120
Lafayette511794
Lamar499865
Washington4904125
Bolivar4087109
Oktibbeha403581
Panola380981
Pontotoc374757
Monroe3651106
Warren3649103
Union353263
Marshall352069
Neshoba3464154
Pearl River3422105
Leflore3090109
Lincoln304287
Sunflower290373
Hancock288461
Tate279062
Alcorn270754
Pike268180
Itawamba266662
Scott256048
Yazoo253756
Prentiss251153
Copiah247649
Tippah247550
Coahoma245954
Simpson241471
Leake236167
Grenada222471
Marion220273
Covington219072
Adams212370
Wayne208432
Winston205870
George203539
Newton197346
Attala196461
Tishomingo193861
Chickasaw188444
Jasper177838
Holmes171368
Clay164237
Tallahatchie155635
Stone149525
Clarke144762
Calhoun139922
Smith127725
Yalobusha121134
Walthall114037
Greene112929
Noxubee112225
Montgomery111236
Carroll106422
Lawrence105617
Perry104031
Amite100826
Webster95424
Tunica88221
Claiborne87825
Jefferson Davis87727
Benton84823
Humphreys84224
Kemper80020
Quitman7049
Franklin69617
Choctaw62513
Wilkinson59625
Jefferson56520
Sharkey44817
Issaquena1606
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 436087

Reported Deaths: 6486
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson63969994
Mobile31211565
Madison27851208
Tuscaloosa21233271
Montgomery19698326
Shelby19093130
Baldwin16981188
Lee13036105
Morgan12526134
Etowah11987179
Calhoun11441206
Marshall10357123
Houston8886158
Limestone827876
Cullman8203108
Elmore8120104
DeKalb7828103
Lauderdale7798103
St. Clair7763125
Talladega6394111
Walker6002177
Jackson594644
Colbert545276
Blount543986
Autauga532761
Coffee456762
Dale406883
Franklin372448
Russell349212
Chilton342873
Covington336068
Escambia330144
Dallas312096
Tallapoosa3120107
Chambers301170
Clarke293336
Pike261131
Marion251558
Lawrence250752
Winston232742
Bibb221248
Geneva208746
Marengo206529
Pickens199031
Hale182742
Barbour179337
Fayette177029
Butler172459
Cherokee164330
Henry158224
Monroe151320
Randolph144336
Washington140127
Clay129146
Crenshaw122944
Macon120937
Cleburne120724
Lamar119721
Lowndes113736
Wilcox106622
Bullock102228
Perry99118
Conecuh96821
Sumter90026
Greene76823
Coosa63215
Choctaw51724
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