Congrats, Doug Jones: Christmas Comes Early to Alabama

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

 

This is an excerpt from an article originally published in BillMoyers.com. Read the rest here.

 

Opinion:

 

We spent Monday and Tuesday in “Dewey Defeats Truman” mode, fully preparing to write a piece on the election of Republican Roy Moore to the United States Senate. We had even dusted off a 1925 quote from the great H.L. Mencken during his coverage of the Scopes monkey trial in Tennessee in which he excoriated the fundamentalist Southern foes of evolution: “Neanderthal man is organizing in these forlorn backwaters of the land, led by a fanatic, rid of sense and devoid of conscience.”

How relieved we are then to have been wrong, not only about Tuesday night’s election result but also our false and smug assumption that the majority of voters in the usually red and deeply conservative Alabama would do the wrong thing and pull the wrong lever, fueling the high-octane, blood-thirsty aspirations of Donald Trump’s Rasputin, Steve Bannon. When last we saw Bannon in the wee hours of the morning he was staggering down a back alley struggling to pull the stake out of his heart.

Last month in Anniston, Alabama, Democrat Doug Jones, the senator-to-be, said, “We’ve got a real opportunity here to put Alabama’s best foot forward, instead of taking a step or two back.” And so Alabama has. Still, it was close.

There were so many factors at play: Roy Moore was for years a familiar figure roaming  Alabama’s rural areas like Elmer Gantry, calling on the lost to repent and mend their ways while keeping the collection plates filled. Turns out that between revivals Moore may also have been stalking teenagers for purposes other than choir practice.

What’s more, the twice-deposed judge — bounced both times from the bench for refusing to enforce federal laws (he always seemed a secessionist at heart, an early advocate of Make America As Great As It Was Before Lincoln) — ran a poor campaign. He assumed victory and was AWOL much of the time as he sought to avoid human and media contact, while the Jones operation was textbook: well-organized, with a strong get-out-the-vote operation and a homegrown candidate with a creative ad campaign who was constantly on the hustings, moving from town to town, shaking hands and making contact with as many voters as he could.

Add to this the sentiment among many of Alabama’s citizens that they were tired of and disgusted with their redneck, reactionary image and a belief pushed forward by, most importantly, the state’s senior Republican senator, Richard Shelby, that Moore’s election would be bad for business.

 

 

But the big news in the results was turnout, especially among African-Americans and women — numbers the Democratic Party should take to heart.

As our friend John Nichols at The Nation reported:

African-Americans formed 28 percent of the Alabama electorate on Tuesday. Doug Jones won 96 percent of their votes statewide, as compared with 31 percent of the white vote, according to exit polls.

And Jonathan Allen at NBC News wrote:

Fifty-eight percent of Alabama women voted for the winner, Democrat Doug Jones, including 35 percent of white women, according to exit polling. While that latter figure might not sound like much, it’s more than twice the 16 percent of white Alabama women who voted for President Barack Obama in 2012, the last presidential race in which exit polling was conducted.

By the way, don’t be hard on us if we return to the humbled but richly bankrolled Bannon (by the billionaires-many-times-over Mercer family longing with misty eyes for a return to the feudal system) who appeared at two Moore rallies in Alabama, railing without a trace of irony about “outsiders” coming into the state. Oh, to have seen his face when he read the tweet from former Mitch McConnell aide Josh Holmes, who said: “I’d just like to thank Steve Bannon for showing us how to lose the reddest state in the union.”

Nor can you blame us for being amused by the reaction of the president to Moore’s loss. Trump, who in the last days of the race came out forcefully for his gun-toting fellow groper, rallied on Moore’s behalf in nearby Pensacola, Florida, tweeted for him like a kid with a pea shooter and made robocalls urging support, now backpedals: “I said Roy Moore will not be able to win the general election. I was right!”

So as Doug Jones stood at the podium Tuesday night, claiming victory while surrounded by his family and a racially diverse coalition of women and men, secessionists took it on the chin, as did the sexual predators, our corrupted president and the white supremacist lemmings led by the anarchist Bannon and the Bible-misquoting Moore, now a deflated messiah.

 

Author Bios:

Bill Moyers is the managing editor of Moyers & Company and BillMoyers.com.

Michael Winship is the Emmy Award-winning senior writer of Moyers & Company and BillMoyers.com, and a former senior writing fellow at the policy and advocacy group Demos. Follow him on Twitter: @MichaelWinship.

This is an excerpt from an article originally published in BillMoyers.com. Read the rest here.

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