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.

Confirmed Cases: 116617

Reported Deaths: 3283
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7987178
DeSoto713479
Harrison527284
Jackson462285
Rankin398286
Madison383794
Lee360080
Forrest306978
Jones295784
Washington259299
Lafayette251343
Lauderdale2485135
Lamar227138
Oktibbeha202854
Bolivar201977
Neshoba1854111
Lowndes180262
Panola170240
Leflore168787
Sunflower163449
Warren155156
Monroe152173
Pontotoc147920
Marshall145329
Lincoln141157
Pike139256
Copiah138136
Scott125729
Coahoma125437
Grenada122639
Yazoo122634
Simpson121749
Union119225
Tate117739
Leake115242
Holmes114960
Itawamba114825
Pearl River114560
Adams108944
Prentiss106920
Wayne102022
Alcorn101112
George99919
Covington97927
Marion95443
Tippah91323
Newton86927
Chickasaw85726
Hancock85028
Tallahatchie84526
Winston84421
Tishomingo81641
Attala79726
Clarke76151
Clay70021
Jasper69117
Walthall64027
Calhoun62612
Noxubee59917
Smith59616
Montgomery55223
Yalobusha54914
Claiborne53816
Tunica53517
Lawrence52514
Perry49823
Carroll49312
Greene47818
Stone47714
Humphreys44916
Amite42513
Quitman4206
Jefferson Davis41211
Webster37613
Benton3456
Wilkinson33820
Kemper32715
Sharkey28514
Jefferson27710
Franklin2463
Choctaw2086
Issaquena1074
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 159439

Reported Deaths: 2699
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson23443377
Mobile16934315
Tuscaloosa10414140
Montgomery10298197
Madison939496
Shelby743663
Baldwin669469
Lee655065
Calhoun462161
Marshall441150
Etowah431251
Morgan418235
Houston418034
DeKalb346129
Elmore322753
St. Clair299942
Limestone289330
Walker282392
Talladega267435
Cullman250824
Lauderdale231342
Jackson217515
Autauga207431
Franklin206131
Colbert204132
Russell19533
Blount194225
Chilton189332
Dallas187227
Coffee179511
Dale177251
Covington175529
Escambia173030
Clarke135317
Chambers135244
Pike134413
Tallapoosa133087
Marion109729
Barbour10339
Marengo102522
Butler101340
Winston93713
Geneva9167
Lawrence86132
Pickens86018
Bibb84314
Randolph82916
Hale77730
Clay74912
Washington74912
Cherokee74514
Henry7196
Lowndes71428
Bullock64917
Monroe64810
Crenshaw60930
Perry5936
Fayette58413
Cleburne5738
Wilcox57012
Conecuh56113
Macon53720
Lamar5065
Sumter47321
Choctaw39212
Greene34616
Coosa2053
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