Commentary

Alabama Election (Somewhat) Restored Faith in Democracy

December 15, 2017

By Arturo Castañares / Publisher and CEO

Alabama voters on Tuesday rejected a candidate for U.S. Senate that was so abhorrent that even the state’s other Republican Senator said he couldn’t vote for him, but that still didn’t keep Trump and Steve Bannon from campaigning for Roy Moore.

Moore has been accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl, as well as dating a 16-year-old, when he was in his 30s and serving as a District Attorney, and he continues to deny the claims even in the face of hand-written notes from him to the accusers dating back to the times of the alleged assaults.

At a time when women are finally taking a courageous stand against abusive men, even for transgressions that occurred years ago, allegations like the ones against Moore should be taken very seriously.

During the campaign, Moore’s position on other important issues also surfaced, including his statements that the country would be better off without the Constitutional amendments passed after the original Bill of Rights.

Exactly which Amendments does Roy Moore think made America less great?

Well, the 13th Amendment outlawed slavery, and the 14th guaranteed everyone receives equal protection under thr law. Maybe Moore thinks that outlawing indentured servitude by humans bought and sold like animals was a mistake. Or maybe he thinks the laws of this country should treat men and women differently, or allow states to discriminate against us based on our race, religion, and preference for a partner.

The 15th Amendment guaranteed voting rights regardless of race, color, or previous slave status, the 19th gave women the right to vote, and the 24th banned poll taxes that kept poor people from voting. Maybe Moore believes giving all Americans a say in our democracy was a mistake.

The 18th Amendment banned alcohol and the 21st repealed the 18th, so maybe Moore has a point with these two.

But the 22nd Amendment limited presidents to two terms in office, the 23rd gave Washington, D.C. residents a voice in electing presidents, and the 25th established a clear line of succession to replace a president. Not exciting stuff, but still important to electing our leaders.

Moore believes that our country was better off before those pesky later amendments were passed.
Forgetting the allegations of molestation and abuse of minors, Moore’s political views are way outside the mainstream, even among conservative Republicans. Moore represents an outdated, anachronistic school of political thought that just doesn’t fit in today’s society.

Just two weeks ago, Ivanka Trump, the President’s daughter and White House advisor, said there is a special place in hell for people like Moore who prey on children.

Yet, given his extreme views and allegations against him, Moore still enjoyed the support of the sitting President who called him a “good guy” and asked voters last week to “do the right thing, vote for Roy Moore.”
When election results were reported soon after polls closed on Election Day this Tuesday, Moore was ahead by 51,000 votes. The gap closed as the votes came in and, when all was said and done, Moore lost the election, but only by 1.3 percent.

How could the election between a seriously flawed candidate and a former U.S. Attorney that prosecuted KKK members even be a close call?

By the morning after the election, a post-mortem of the campaign began to detail who voted for Moore.
The most obvious were rural white Republican men, the backbone of Donald Trump’s base. That was to be expected. They distrust the media, the government, and anyone that attacks their candidates.

But, surprisingly, it was white middle class Republican women that voted for Moore in large numbers.

Despite the allegations against him involving young girls, white Republican mothers still voted for Moore.
What finally doomed Moore was that moderate, higher educated Republicans in larger cities turned against him. They joined Democrats, and especially black women, to cobble together enough votes to elect the first Democrat to the U.S. Senate in Alabama in 27 years.

Voters paid attention, and withstood the onslaught of political ads and media attention. Trump, Bannon, and even Charles Barkley weighed in on the election.

Although it’s encouraging that voters are finally pushing back against the divisive, destructive style of politics that Bannon and others have been pushing for years, it’s scary to see how many people still responded to it.

Moore came close to claiming a seat in the Senate, and having a say in how our country treats its citizens. In the end, over 650,000 still voted for him. They either didn’t believe the allegations, or simply didn’t care. They must have felt that tax cuts for the rich, trade tariffs, or reducing national parks was more important than standing up against abuse and misogyny.

Democracy may seem fragile in that elections can sometimes swing wildly between parties, or that it can be corrupted by lies and deceit, but our system’s resilience was on display this week.

It seems that voters are paying attention again and using their votes wisely to send a message that the toxic environment of our politics will not be tolerated. Voters rejected hate, division, and abuse. They sent a message of change that should be heard clearly in Washington.

Last month it was Virginia and New Jersey. This week it was Alabama.

Our faith in democracy was reaffirmed this week, and illustrated, once again, Wendell Phillip’s famous saying, that “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, power is ever stealing from the many to the few.”
As Congress continues to work on a tax cut package that will reduce taxes on the rich and burden us with nearly $1.5 trillion dollars in debt, this week’s election results should be echoing in Republicans’ heads.

There’s a special place for politicians who cross voters. It’s called the unemployment line.

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