Last November, Alabama voters gave Donald Trump a nearly 30-percentage-point statewide win over Hillary Clinton in Trump’s charge to the presidency.
It was assumed that in such a deep-red state, when last Tuesday’s special election was held to replace Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate, a Republican would take the place of Sessions, who Trump had named Attorney General.
The Alabama GOP held a primary, and to the surprise of many, the nominee was Roy Moore, an outspoken, bed-rock Christian and champion of causes that most Americans believed were settled in the 1950s and 1960s.
Candidate Moore continued the anachronistic demeanor he has demonstrated most of his life in public service. Even before winning the primary to replace Sessions, he voiced his old beliefs, referring to Native Americans and Asians as “reds and yellows.” Moore’s stands against gays are also well-documented.
As a campaigner, Moore relied heavily on President Trump’s bag of tricks, shaming, blaming, denigrating opponents — especially those believed to be less conservative than he and his followers. For example, Moore insists Illinois and Indiana are governed by Shariah law, which is patently false.
One would think such ridiculous claims would be enough to get Moore swamped at the ballot box, but because Alabama tends to vote Republican, his Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, was believed to have no chance at becoming a U.S. senator.
Then came accusations of Moore’s preference for forcing himself on underaged females, some as young as 14, when he was in his mid-30s. That seemed to wake up Alabama’s sleeping electorate, which also got a jolt from President Trump’s endorsement of Moore. Trump himself is the target of sexual abuse accusations from nearly two dozen women.
So, what we had last Tuesday was basically a referendum on moral behavior, what kind of nation and society we really, truly want to be.
It also became a referendum on ethics vs. party loyalty. Trump explained his endorsement of Moore as being a way to guarantee a senator who will always “vote with us,” the “us” being the Trump administration and Republicans who are still on board the Trump agenda train.
Back in Alabama, confusion reigned heading into last Tuesday’s vote. Moore vehemently denied the child-molestation allegations, saying it was all “fake news,” another of the current president’s mantras. Moore said the GOP establishment was out to get him, and that he would be a stalwart Trump helper in draining the swamp.
We fail to see how a swamp can be drained when current elected officials are filling it with people of questionable moral fiber, a low regard for minorities and other people’s religious beliefs, and a general disregard for the truth.
Various experts have said they have never encountered a person who lies with such ease and equanimity — and so often — as does Trump. And Moore seemed to buy into the concept that telling a lie often enough makes it the truth.
We are pleased to report that, for the first time in a quarter-century, the voters of Alabama will send a Democrat to the U.S. Senate. Doug Jones pulled the upset, thus confirming that Alabama citizens not only have a sense of fairness and justice, but also a sense of pride in their ability to reject the kind of hatred and bigotry that has scarred southern states for generations.
If the Trump presidency has done nothing else, it has awakened America’s sense of decency — because so much of what is spoken from the White House is factually, morally and ethically corrupt.