Editorial: Jones wins; Trump repudiated
Democrat Doug Jones’ narrow win over Republican Roy Moore to represent Alabama in the U.S. Senate is a huge relief for many Americans. In what is considered the most Republican state in the country, the win by Jones is considered a strong rebuke not only of Moore’s repugnant politics of racism, sexism and bigotry — as well as his alleged sexual molestations of teenage girls when he was younger — but also of President Trump’s politics of division and distraction.
Much has been written since Tuesday night’s victory by Jones — including many pundits, both conservative and liberal, declaring this is a harbinger of what’s to come in the 2018 mid-term elections — but here are excerpts of a few that captured the political times:
The New York Times’ Frank Bruni celebrated with this start to his analysis:
“For more than a year now, virtually all Democrats, many independents and even a significant share of Republicans have looked at President Donald Trump’s conduct and governing priorities and felt that they were suddenly in a foreign land. I count myself among this stunned and despairing group.
“We saw decency in retreat. We saw common sense in decline. We saw a clique of unabashed plutocrats, Trump foremost among them, brazenly treating the federal government as a branding opportunity or a trough at which they could gorge. We saw a potent strain of authoritarianism jousting with the rule of law.
“And we saw many Americans, including most Republican leaders, either endorsing or quietly putting up with this, to a point where we wondered if some corner had been turned forever.
“That’s still an open question. But Alabamians provided a partial answer on Tuesday, showing that there are limits to what voters will tolerate, in terms of the lies they’ll believe, the vices they’ll ignore and the distance they’ll stray from civilized norms.
“Moore, an accused child molester who sugarcoated slavery and seemed intent on some sort of extreme Christian theocracy, was simply too far.
“With his defeat comes relief, yes, but also a desperately needed encouragement.”
But there is this sober reminder from the Washington Post’s Katherine Krueger:
“Despite the homophobia, despite the racism, and despite the pedophilia allegations, white people in Alabama came out in droves to try to send Roy Moore to the Senate—and they almost pulled it off… Of white voters overall, who are 66% of Alabama’s voters, 67% voted for Moore.
“Among black voters, who are less than one-third of the state’s voting pool, 96% checked the box for Jones; 63% of white women voters—a group, you may recall, that was instrumental in electing Donald Trump president even after he admitted to sexual assault on video—voted for Moore (compared to 72% of white men.)
“Again, compare that to black male voters, 93% of whom voted Jones, and black women, a staggering 98% of whom voted for the Democrat.”
The Washington Post’s Joseph Lowndes offered this analysis in a not-so-optimism view that highlights what he calls the “denial of the franchise” — or the loss of stature and job security that white, middle-aged American men feel in today’s multi-cultural world dominated by a global economy.
“Moore has also benefited from the return of another element of the Jim Crow era, the denial of the franchise‚ which is critical to Republican fortunes as the nation grows more diverse.
“Since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down key provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the Alabama Republican Party has actively worked to restrict the vote, in part to suppress black voter turnout. A 2011 photo ID law was described by one of its sponsors as intended to undermine the ‘black power structure’ in the state. Indeed, over 100,000 registered voters do not have a photo ID they can use at the polls, and blacks and Latinos are twice as likely as whites to lack the necessary documentation.
“But perhaps the way that Moore’s campaign most recalled the politics of the civil rights era is in the way that it is helping to reconfigure national politics.
“Like George Wallace, Moore may presage a decisive shift toward a hard-right racial politics in the Republican Party. During his 1968 presidential campaign, Wallace attacked liberal elites, protesters and criminals, using a thinly veiled racial rhetoric that called for “law and order” and an end to “forced busing.” This rhetoric resonated with white voters across the country, showing that in some ways, as Malcolm X said, the Mason-Dixon Line runs along the Canadian border.
Wallace’s campaign success prodded his Republican rival, Richard Nixon, to make appeals to what he called the “Silent Majority,” which targeted white voters on the basis of opposition to the black freedom movement and related struggles of the 1960s.
“…Moore’s campaign, however, illustrates that something more fundamental has shifted, that in the Trump era white populism is now ascendant within the Republican Party.
“In the wake of Mitt Romney’s loss to Barack Obama, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus acknowledged, “We need to campaign among Hispanic, Black, Asian, and gay Americans and demonstrate we care about them, too. We must recruit more candidates who come from minority communities.”
“The party’s autopsy that reached these conclusions, however, omitted any discussion of the growing economic divide in the country and within the party. Trump’s revolt from below capitalized upon that blind spot to destroy the vision of neoliberal multiculturalism laid out in the RNC report. Instead of a party that would embrace immigration reform and visions of corporate diversity as it accelerated economic inequality, the party now is committed to a base of white voters who combine economic and racial grievance — while still, it should be noted, accelerating economic inequality.”
And this effort to put a silver lining on a dismal election by Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times:
“There are so many things I could say right now after watching Doug Jones defeat Roy Moore in the Senate race in Alabama, but for me it comes down to just two words: ‘Thank you.’
“Thank you to the majority of Alabamians for loving our country more than you hated Democrats. Thank you for voting as citizens, not as members of a tribe. Thank you for understanding that sending a credibly accused child molester to represent Alabama in the U.S. Senate would not only have denigrated your state, it would have denigrated that whole legislative body. Thank you for seeing the decency of Doug Jones, even though he is a Democrat, and seeing the indecency of Roy Moore.
“And most of all, thank you for sending a message to Donald Trump and Stephen Bannon that you are not as dumb as they think you are. That you see what they are up to — trying to use divisive tweets and racist dog whistles to get as many Americans as possible so aroused and inflamed that they won’t think about the real issues, they won’t think about the actual candidates, they won’t think about the national interest, or even their own self-interest, but just how much they dislike “the other” — and you’re not buying it any more.
“God bless every one of you. Yours was a deeply patriotic act.
“It’s too soon to say for sure, of course, whether this is a national trend, but when the majority in a deep-red state like Alabama — where anti-abortion sentiments run so high, making it nearly impossible for a pro-choice Democrat to be elected — repudiates the effort by Trump and Bannon to turn us from citizens into tribes, there is hope for the country after all. It is a real sign of health.”
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