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.

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