BREAKING NEWS! There is still a modicum of morality in our politics.
Voters in deep red state Alabama went to the polls yesterday and delivered a resounding “NO” to the Donald Trump/Steve Bannon/Mitch McConnell narrative that partisan politics trumps morality. By electing Democrat Doug Jones to fill a historically Republican senate seat, staunch Republican voters stated clearly that overlooking sexual abuse, rape, pedophilia and bigotry for the sake of party politics is a bridge too far.
I know that to many of us the allegations against Republican candidate Roy Moore made this seem like a no brainer. But make no mistake the outcome was very much in doubt all the way up until election day. In fact exit polls show that 12% of Alabamians didn’t make up their minds until they walked into the voting booth. Doug Jones defeated Roy Moore by only 2 points.
So while Democrats have every right to celebrate their hard fought upset victory they should be cautioned not to get too far over their skis. This is still Alabama. The Democrat candidate was barley able to eek out a victory over a guy with a sordid history of sexual abuse and pedophilia. In all likelihood Doug Jones will get swamped in the next general election if Alabama Republicans can find a candidate who isn’t a creep.
That said, this result foreshadows a very difficult road ahead for the Republicans as they look to the 2018 mid-terms.
By taking the Alabama senate seat Democrats inflicted a huge loss on Donald Trump, the Trump “base” and the Republican Party “establishment”. A trifecta of bad news all wrapped up in one big bow.
Donald Trump proved once again that his presidency does not bring the political capital necessary to win an important election. After supporting Luther Strange in a losing effort in the Alabama primary, Trump went all in for Roy Moore…and lost again. This after similar losing efforts in Virginia and New Jersey. How much help can a president with less than a 30% approval rating be on the stump to a Republican incumbent lawmaker? A Republican incumbent serving in a congress whose approval ratings stand a 16%?
Steve Bannon, the Freedom Caucus and the Republican base took a beating as well. Bannon has proven to be little more than a noisy firebrand whose only claim to fame is promoting flawed candidates who lose elections. The Republican base looms large within the halls of congress. But for all of their strong armed tactics and primary challenges they are a guilty as their “establishment” colleagues in their failure to get anything done legislatively. Sabre rattling only goes so far. Eventually you have to get stuff done.
Last but not least we have Mitch McConnell and the silent Republican majority. These folks were horrified by the prospect of serving with Roy Moore one day before throwing their support and money behind him the next. Their hypocrisy and craven political partisanship has been duly noted.
The net result…tax reform will in all likelihood be the only legislative accomplishment that Republicans will have to show for their first two years at the helm. A dismal record on which to suggest to mid-term voters they deserve another bite of the apple.
Morality and decency scored a victory in Alabama. A small beacon of light in the darkness of politics.
It should not have been that hard. It’s strength and endurance are yet to be determined.
To be continued…