Victory for decency in Alabama

There is much to be said about the narrow but astonishing victory of Democrat Doug Jones over Republican Roy Moore in the special election for the US Senate in Alabama on Tuesday.

This, after all, is a state where Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton a little more than a year ago by more than 27 percentage points.

Writing at The Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein makes some important points:

Roy Moore was a uniquely flawed and vulnerable candidate. But what should worry Republicans most about his loss to Democrat Doug Jones in Tuesday’s U.S. Senate race in Alabama was how closely the result tracked with the GOP’s big defeats last month in New Jersey and Virginia—not to mention how it followed the pattern of public reaction to Donald Trump’s perpetually tumultuous presidency.

Jones beat Moore with a strong turnout and a crushing lead among African Americans, a decisive advantage among younger voters, and major gains among college-educated and suburban whites, especially women. That allowed Jones to overcome big margins for Moore among the key elements of Trump’s coalition: older, blue-collar, evangelical, and nonurban white voters.

Also critical to the result was the enthusiasm gap between Democratic and Republican voters:

Despite it being an off-year special election in December, Jones got 92 percent of Clinton’s vote total. Moore just got 49 percent of Trump’s.

As pleasing as this rebuke of Trump (who went all in for Moore) and Trumpism is, it would be wrong for Democrats to conclude that they can do without any support at all from white blue-collar and rural voters. That’s a recipe for continued defeat in large areas of the country– such as the part of Virginia where I live. And that’s one reason why Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown is my favorite for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020.

I suppose every Harry’s Place reader knows about the multiple credible accounts of Moore’s creepy behavior with teenage girls– including with a 14-year-old when he was in his 30s. But before he rides off into the sunset, I want to call attention to one of the less-reported remarks among the many outrageous things he has spouted.

Earlier in the campaign, Moore, who has been accused of sexual misconduct, attacked [Jewish billionaire George] Soros for “pushing an agenda” that the candidate described as “sexual in nature.”

Moore did not explain what he meant by “sexual.” But he went on to say of Soros that “No matter how much money he’s got, he’s still going to the same place that people who don’t recognize God and morality and accept his salvation are going. And that’s not a good place.”

This apparently was one reason his wife felt it necessary to make the tone-deaf declaration at Moore’s final campaign rally that “one of our attorneys is a Jew.”

It’s possible to criticize Soros without turning him into some omnipotent demon responsible for all the problems of Western civilization. That elides too easily into antisemitism– as does the suggestion that Jews are destined to burn in hell for eternity because they don’t recognize “[God’s] salvation.”

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