Go High – Keeping the High Ground In Trump’s America

Michelle Obama at the 2016 DNC in Philadelphia
Michelle Obama at the 2016 DNC in Philadelphia

“When they go low, we go high.”

One of the defining and most enduring phrases of the 2016 Democratic convention. A phrase that evokes an image of people seeking the higher moral ground. Not falling to pettiness. Standing up for their principles over politics.

For my money, it was the best speech of the whole convention. It was, perhaps, the best phrase of the whole convention. Now, months later, it seems a footnote in the minds of elected Democrats who are trying to triangulate their way through the minefield of Trumpisms rather than keeping the moral high ground.


A lot of progressives were shocked and dismayed when Democratic Senators voted incoming HUD Secretary, Ben Carson out of committee.

Carson, an accomplished surgeon, has no background in housing policy. He showed his lack of knowledge in the confirmation hearings. Honestly, Carson is someone I might trust my child with if they needed brain surgery, but I doubt I’d trust him with them if they needed a babysitter. That’s precisely the job Trump has arranged for him.

One of the Senators who voted Carson’s nomination out of Committee was progressive hero Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Warren has taken a lot of heat for the vote. Wednesday, she posted a response to the criticism on her Facebook Page.

You can go read it all over there, but the crux of it is “pick your battles”.

There are, occasionally, reasons to vote for something even when you oppose it. One reason has to do with legislative rules that most people don’t know about or care to know about. Another reason might be horse trading…getting something in return for your support. Before 1994, bipartisanship is how Congress got things done. Since 1994 its been a trainwreck.

Bipartisanship works when you have faith that the other side is operating in good faith. In Washington, the definition of “bipartisan” for more than two decades has been: “Democrats vote for Republican bills but Republicans don’t return the favor.” Mitch McConnell has demonstrated that he’s a shit-filled creamsickle who can’t be trusted any further than he can bellow his floppy neck skin. Why give Republicans the “out” of bipartisanship when they show no compunction to return the favor?

So I’m not sure why anyone would believe in “bipartisanship” at this point, unless a Democrat just really likes a Republican bill or is fucking blind.

People take votes seriously. If you vote for it, you own a part of it. That means you support it, even if your opposition wouldn’t have made a difference.

The rationalized nuance that cripples many Democratic legislators doesn’t make it far outside of their heads, and doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Its a unicorn.

Go High

The answer is no
The answer is no

In Michelle Obama’s speech, she was talking about people who say or do nasty things, and taking the high ground. I think that’s a good guiding principle for people generally. As a political strategy, it needs some refining…but not much.

“Go High” at this point means standing by your principles. It says, “No, I’m not going to support this patently unqualified nincompoop who consistently lied to the American people, and I’m not going to vote for Ben Carson (or any of the other nominees) either”.

Its not obstructionist because Democrats don’t have the votes to obstruct these nominees. Will it set a dangerous precedent for a future Democratic President? That precedent has already been set. Don’t worry about being a trailblazer.

Is the person qualified for the position? Possibly, but none of those qualifications are going to overcome the puerile ravings of our lunatic President. None of them. These people will be treated like Sean Spicer…”go out there and say something crazy that you don’t believe or pack your shit.”

Some principled nominees might have the stones to pack their shit and not put up with the missives of a maniac. But a more likely scenario is Mike Pompeo or James Mattis does something truly awful at the direction of the President. Both were confirmed with 14 or more Democratic votes. Those 14+ Democrats just bought themselves a part of the crazy for the low, low, price of nothing in return but gloom, despair, and pissed off Democrats.

2018 Started in November

This is the plan
This is the plan
The 2018 election started as soon as the last one ended.

Democrats have 23 seats to defend of the 33 running. That’s a lot of territory to defend.

There’s still a lot of anger out there, and that anger will turn on this President as soon as people realize that they still don’t make enough money, avocados are 3 bucks a pop and a $200 TV now costs $400 bucks.

Kristen Gillibrand of New York is the only Democratic Senator who’s gotten this right. Just oppose all of them.

Its not hurting you. It won’t slow down the administration, for those “good government” types. You literally have nothing to lose.

You don’t have the votes to stop it unless Lindsey Graham, John McCain and at least one other Senator join your cause…and they could do that on at least one nominee. But if Democrats aren’t voting like a bloc, they’ve got no reason to stick their necks out there. Why would any Republican vote against their own party if they didn’t think that vote would be meaningful? Why take the risk?

More importantly, why, in any way, hitch your cart to the flaming pile of horseshit and toddler temper tantrum tears that is the Trump administration. It doesn’t make sense. When the backlash comes around, you’ll be caught in the crossfire.

Here’s the important point: your vote for Trump’s nominees is an affirmation of the very things you say you’re against. Why in the name of all things holy would you set yourself up to have this thrown in your face by a Republican who, for their own political purposes, has turned away from the “dear leader” in the 2018 cycle?

It’s a new world Democrats…well not really, its just got a freaky orange glow like right before a tornado sweeps through town. Choose to go high. Stand up for your principles. Be a shelter from that storm. Resolve to be a solid check against administrative overreach.

Or keep doing what your’re doing. Succumb to appeasement. Be the next Neville Chamberlain and fool yourself into believing that the orange Cheeto won’t march on Poland.

Either way, we’re watching.

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