By MOHAMED HAMALUDIN
Democrats and African Americans, in particular, are rejoicing over Doug Jones’ stunning defeat of Roy Moore for the open U.S. Senate seat for Alabama, a state that had not elected a Democrat to the Senate in a generation.
Moore was a deeply flawed candidate, whom numerous women have accused of stalking them while they were teenagers and, in at least one case, of assaulting a girl who was 14. But, sadly, those complaints in themselves would not have derailed Moore’s campaign. Donald Trump proved immune to allegations that he sexually assaulted several women. He was caught on camera boasting that he grabs women by their privates, then claimed that was just “locker room talk” or, as his wife, Melania, put it, “boy talk.” Yet he went on to win the presidency.
Jones’ 1.5 percent margin of victory came because of his credibility among Alabama’s African American voters, who gave him 98 percent of their ballots. They apparently rewarded him for his role in the conviction of two of the Ku Klux Klan terrorists who bombed the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham on Sept. 15, 1963, killing Denise McNair, 11, Carole Robertson, 14, Addie Mae Collins, 14, and Cynthia Dianne Wesley, 14.
But it did not take long for Jones to say what sort of “Democrat” he will be in the Senate, telling CNN’s State of the Nation on Sunday, less than a week after his election victory and even before he has been sworn into office, that he could vote with the Republicans “if it will help my constituents.” Which constituents?
There is, of course, nothing wrong with voting across party lines but the Democrats have a reason why they oppose Trump and the Republicans in Congress en bloc. It is partly because of ideology, which is seeing the administration dismantling programs and policies in place for years to protect the rights of African Americans and others, curb the abuses of financial institutions and tackle global warming. But the resistance is also due to the alarming political climate which is being nurtured as the new normal.
Moore’s defeat in Alabama is, therefore, just a small glitch in the otherwise smooth operation of the political machinery which the Republicans are capable of deploying. Steve Bannon, the architect of Moore’s campaign, and of Trump’s successful bid for the White House, has said Alabama was just “a temporary setback.” Of that there can be no doubt. But setback to what?
It may be repetitious but is impossible to analyze what is going on without returning each time to the central goal of those who want people like Moore to win:
a fundamental and, they hope, lasting altering of the dynamics of the American nation-state to make it a white Christian nation based on a belief in the inerrancy of the Bible and affirmed by as many Confederate symbols as possible.
The leadership of the Republican party, in the aftermath of Barack Obama’s election as president, adopted a platform that would be more inclusive of African Americans and other non-whites and tolerant of diversity generally. There are still a few such leaders who cling to that vision of America but the party has sold its soul for partisan ideological gains. The party distanced itself from Moore when the sexual assault allegations surfaced but went right back to him with millions of dollars in the final two weeks of the campaign.
Politics in this nation has reached the point where one major party is willing to do anything – literally anything – to prevent the other from gaining power, with decency and honor cast aside.
Unlike what is happening in Europe, where politicians who disagree on many issues draw the line at bigotry and racism, these groups, called there by a variety of names, have formed their own parties to challenge the status quo. In America, they have been given the keys to the political kingdom.
The Trump presidential campaign and the Moore senatorial campaign were not one-off events, albeit with differing outcomes. They were just the start of a new, crucial phase of a determined bid for a complete takeover of the state.
It is in that context that Moore’s announcement that he could vote with the Republicans is so significant. It is also why, it can be argued, all Americans who care for the future of the country must rise up and confront the threat that lies ahead in the 2018 mid-term elections and the 2020 presidential elections and beyond. The alternative, as history has shown, is not a good one.