What Happened To 'When They Go Low, We Go High?'

What Happened To 'When They Go Low, We Go High?'

The case against a politics of anger


The 2016 election was a traumatic experience for me but, looking back, there were a few moments where I felt inspired. Michelle Obama's 2016 DNC address was one of those moments. In acknowledging the racist attacks on her husband's faith and citizenship, she said "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."

These words were moving in the context of opposing Donald Trump, who throughout the campaign had coarsened public discourse with his vile and hateful rhetoric. Michelle Obama, instead of trying to out-Trump Trump himself, chose to take the high road.

For a moment, Michelle Obama's words were an animating force for progressives. But after Trump's inauguration, Michelle's words, and the ideas behind them were quickly abandoned by the left. And I mourn the loss of these higher ideals. Because I think there is a great danger in embracing a politics of anger.

Anger is an understandable reaction to have in politics. When we see things in the world that are unjust or oppressive, we should be angry about them. And we should use this anger to motivate us to enact change. This is what progressive activists have done throughout history. There are many things Trump has done that piss me off, too many to name. Yet we shouldn't let this anger consume us. Anger should not be the driving force behind the progressive movement.

Anger is dangerous because it so easily slips into hatred. And I have seen a tendency on the left to demonize our political rivals. This comes from a false premise. Conservatives are not bad people. They want what's best for our country, just as liberals do. They have a different vision but that doesn't make them evil. In the same vein, we should not look down upon Trump supporters. They are not our moral or intellectual inferiors. I have family friends who voted for Trump. I have known them my entire life. They are not deplorables. They are smart and kind and funny. They are fundamentally good people. This narrow-minded tribalism, this us vs. them mentality, is exactly the sort of divisiveness that Trump has exploited for his own political gain. But it not right, it is not moral, and it is deeply damaging to our country.

Liberals have shown a stunning lack of empathy for Trump supporters and this deeply concerns me. We should have all-encompassing empathy. And anger stops us from doing this. It feeds our worst human impulses. As Buddha said, "Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned."

There have been several instances of progressive activists disturbing members of the Trump Administration or Republican politicians at restaurants or harassing them in public. My question is: What are we really accomplishing besides ruining someone's night out? Clearly, these disturbances are not the same as the violence in bomb threats to prominent Democrats. But it is still wrong. I think our time would be better spent phone-banking or canvassing for progressive candidates instead of heckling people at restaurants. Liberals have really embraced the idea of resistance. But you know what's better than being in the opposition? Being in power.

Also, on GW freshman class Facebook page, there have been instances of conservatives posting about an upcoming event and liberals leaving snarky remarks in the comment section. This is rude and unnecessary. We aren't advancing any progressive cause; we're just being jerks. And that's not okay. Conservative should feel free to express their opinions and organize their own events without being harassed and ridiculed by the left. Marginalizing conservatives serves no legitimate purpose. We should respect conservatives for being passionate about what they believe in and putting their ideas into action. And we should do the same.

The old saying about sticks and stones is ridiculous. Any writer knows that words have tremendous power. Words can hurt, but they can also heal. Words can divide a nation but they can also bring one together. I think we have a moral obligation to use our words for good. I got involved in politics because I care about people. And in the battle for social justice and economic fairness, liberals should not let our compassion become collateral damage.

Popular Right Now

12 Things Young Republicans Are Tired Of Hearing

A dozen myths about conservatism and what the real deal is.


As a college student, I know a lot of people my age consider themselves very liberal. It's a rare occasion when you meet another conservative on campus. Being a young Republican, there are several negative assumptions that come along with that.

Here is a list of 12 things we're all tired of hearing.

1. "You're only a Republican because your parents are."

Yes, my parents are both Republican and that's where my morals and beliefs were first taught, but I am my own person. I have done my own research and decided that my views side with the Republican Party. There are several things that even my parents and I disagree on. I wouldn't choose to be a Democrat just so I could be different.

2. "I bet you support Trump."

While many Republicans my age are supporting Trump, that doesn't mean we all are. We're entitled to our personal opinions and assuming we're all the same is incorrect. Just because you are a Republican doesn't mean you automatically support Trump.

3. "You're racist, sexist, etc."

This couldn't be farther from the truth. There are so many Republicans that come from unique racial and cultural backgrounds, both genders included. Take Marco Rubio, Condoleezza Rice, Ben Carson, and Bobby Jindal. These are just a few of the many, many examples.

4. "You're uneducated about the issues."

Just because someone has a different opinion than you doesn't mean they're wrong or uninformed.

5. "You're only a Republican because you're rich."

I am by no means rich. Did my parents have enough money to support their family? Yes, and I'm very blessed for that. However, they didn't pay for everything. As for college, I worked my butt off to get scholarships and opportunities to succeed. I was taught at a very young age that money requires work and things aren't just handed to you. That's exactly the reason why I strongly support capitalism.

6. "Why don't you want free college?"

NOTHING IS FREE. Would free college be awesome? Absolutely! However, I do not believe it's fair to tax working people to pay for it. If you want something, work for it.

7. "The GOP is a bunch of old, white men."

This is so untrue. I mean take a look at all the well-known conservatives in America. Lauren Conrad, Britney Spears, Carrie Underwood, Carly Fiorina, Condoleezza Rice, Megyn Kelly, Elizabeth Hasselbeck, and so many more. Point proven.

8. "You're close-minded."

This is the most common and most annoying. Conservative does not equal close-minded. I love hearing about different ideas and opinions.

9. "You hate immigrants."

I personally feel like our immigration system is broken and needs to be changed so it's more accessible to become an American citizen. However, I don't believe those here illegally should receive taxpayer benefits. I'm all for immigration as long as it's done legally.

10. "You don't support women's rights."

Usually, this is brought up when talking about abortion. What about the rights of the unborn child? It's not just about one person's rights at that point.

11. "You should just #FeelTheBern."

#NO. I do not support socialism.

12. "You only hear the Fox News version."

Fox News is my favorite choice of news programs, but I also enjoy hearing the different views on CNN, NBC, Huffington Post, etc.

Cover Image Credit: Texas State University College Republicans

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

What Happened To Black History Month?

Has it disappeared?


For decades February has been recognized as Black History Month. As a child, I can remember heavily learning about successful black people and the roles they played in society. I also remember doing a lot of activities and crafts related to those successful black leaders. Over the years, I feel like I have been seeing Black History Month celebrated less and less. It has gotten to the point where I have heard younger children not even knowing who people like Malcolm X, Madam C.J. Walker, George Washington Carver, etc. Not only is it being celebrated less in schools, but it seems like people just associate February with Valentine's Day. Because of this, I question, "Where did Black History Month go?".

I can remember last year I saw someone make a bulletin board for the month of February, and it was called "February Fun Facts." I thought it was just going to be some interesting facts related to events that have happened in February. Once the board was finished, there were only images and facts of black people.

At that point, I was a little disturbed. Not only was it not directly celebrating black history, but it was categorizing it as February fun facts. I couldn't help but feel like I as an African American woman was being disrespected by feeling like black history was a bad thing that couldn't be named directly.

I can go into any store right now and find some Valentine candy, teddy bears, flowers, and gifts. When I go into a clothing store, I can't even find a shirt to wear that specifically celebrates Black History Month.

I know that some people may feel like dedicating an entire month to black history may cause separation between races, problematic, etc. The thing is that I look forward to this time of the year because, for a long time, it was the only time I could ever see and hear about people that looked like me. During the year and in classrooms, all I ever hear about are white male presidents, business leaders, etc. I am not saying that information is not important because it is. While sometimes being the only person of color in most of my classes, it just helps to be able to learn about someone that I can actually relate to. If I can never hear about successful black people, then how can I know that I can be successful too?

I can only assume that people are starting to no longer care about Black History Month as much. If that's the case, then where will it be in the coming years? Will it even be acknowledged?

Related Content

Facebook Comments