“When they go low, we go high,” said Michelle Obama to the 2016 Democratic Convention. It was a rallying cry then, but what does this really mean for us now?
What does it really mean to “go high?” It feels like a rush of spirit to hear, but we’re left hanging – there’s no guidelines or pamphlet for what “going high” really entails. An indiscriminate giving of patience, understanding, and compassionate education has not moved the boat. For the millions of dinner table representatives of a progressive America, there’s no playbook what to focus on, what to give energy to, and mostly, how to communicate in a way that fully captures “going high” without “going complacent.”
Democrats will win in 2020 if there’s a plan we can take to our dinner tables, Facebook feeds, etc. We need to define what is not in scope to focus on as much as what is in scope. Educating a historically racist Aunt Jane at Thanksgiving when she’s never shown a single ounce of interest in seeking truth, should be out of scope – or otherwise, not worth finite emotional energy. Crafting a narrowed scope definition is not complacency – it’s strategy.
Why is a communications strategy important for every day progressives and not just those running for office? Because our every day interactions with people we know mean more than anything they watch on TV from a Democratic candidate. How we frame these conversations and the spirit we bring to them (a spirit we must consciously preserve) – over time, creates a ripple effect.
There’s just enough people hovering right on the edge of stepping onto the dance floor. How do we communicate safety, trust, and the emotional embodiment of “going high?” The answer is not to backtrack on progressive policy, but instead to understand people vote on feelings, energy, and spirit, and not policy alone. We need to rise to this understanding and, for the people on the edge, who sincerely want to live as good and just, answer for them “how does a progressive vision make me feel not only secure, but more alive, more human, and more connected to my community and the country?” We need an actionable strategy for what it means to “go high” in this political climate, in our every day lives, and our every day interactions. We need a “go high” communications pamphlet in every progressive’s back pocket.