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: 512632

Reported Deaths: 10262
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34853555
DeSoto33162432
Hinds32556641
Jackson24830389
Rankin22442402
Lee16238242
Madison14874283
Jones14086247
Forrest13741259
Lauderdale12249324
Lowndes11286193
Lamar10644140
Pearl River9707244
Lafayette8827143
Hancock7835132
Washington7550169
Oktibbeha7204138
Monroe6989179
Pontotoc6970109
Warren6849178
Panola6746134
Neshoba6726210
Marshall6653141
Bolivar6440151
Union633897
Pike5924156
Alcorn5862107
Lincoln5525136
George510180
Prentiss500884
Tippah490282
Itawamba4829107
Scott477499
Adams4766125
Tate4748116
Leflore4723144
Copiah455895
Yazoo455591
Simpson4543117
Wayne442772
Covington432895
Sunflower4299106
Marion4265112
Coahoma4227109
Leake413790
Newton395581
Tishomingo381793
Grenada3775109
Stone365666
Jasper340166
Attala337790
Winston317792
Chickasaw313367
Clay311878
Clarke301195
Calhoun284449
Holmes271289
Smith268952
Yalobusha243747
Tallahatchie231453
Greene224749
Walthall221366
Lawrence217840
Perry213356
Amite209557
Webster205148
Noxubee188642
Montgomery181557
Carroll174441
Jefferson Davis173643
Tunica163239
Benton152639
Kemper144941
Choctaw136527
Claiborne134238
Humphreys131139
Franklin124929
Quitman107528
Wilkinson105939
Jefferson96834
Sharkey65121
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 845108

Reported Deaths: 16115
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1161242006
Mobile741961379
Madison53291732
Shelby38328368
Baldwin38074589
Tuscaloosa36017641
Montgomery34483781
Lee25557263
Calhoun22585518
Morgan22454406
Etowah20016517
Marshall18781316
Houston17729425
St. Clair16880358
Limestone16138218
Cullman16050303
Elmore15904294
Lauderdale14984306
Talladega14191299
DeKalb12971269
Walker12029380
Blount10715192
Autauga10517157
Jackson10161194
Coffee9415192
Colbert9341208
Dale9018191
Tallapoosa7255201
Russell707865
Chilton7018170
Escambia6955143
Covington6933195
Franklin6342108
Chambers5784142
Marion5403130
Dallas5285209
Pike5118109
Clarke484986
Lawrence4826129
Winston4780110
Geneva4642136
Bibb434094
Barbour369480
Butler3434100
Marengo342393
Monroe337066
Randolph334367
Pickens333188
Fayette330085
Henry320666
Hale318389
Cherokee317763
Crenshaw260477
Washington257052
Cleburne254460
Lamar251453
Clay250869
Macon244764
Conecuh192862
Coosa185047
Lowndes178168
Wilcox177438
Bullock152645
Perry141840
Sumter139241
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
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