Now that the Alabama special election is over, it’s time to get real.
Long before the creepy allegations against him, I didn’t care for Roy Moore. I’m just not a fan of politicians or judges who ignore the law because they don’t like it, and seek to impose their will. That’s what Moore did as a judge when he refused to remove the Ten Commandments from the courthouse and was ultimately removed from the bench for it.
I didn’t like it when Barack Obama did it on countless issues, and I don’t like it when someone who is registered in the same party as me does it, even if I think what he did it over was ridiculous. The Ten Commandments being on display on public grounds harms no one and was only an issue because activist progressives seek to wipe any mention of religion from the public square.
That said, we are a nation of laws or we aren’t a nation of laws. Once the courts ruled, that ruling had to be followed. Moore ignored it. I have no respect for that.
Be as mad at me as you like, but the rule of law has to matter; and it has to matter more than your personal feelings.
If you don’t like the law, fight to change the law. Ignoring the law is never an option. If you’re opposed to the concept when someone on their team does it, to be intellectually honest you have to be against it when someone on your team does it.
Imagine, if you will, that you live in a state that does not allow marijuana use for any reason. Now imagine you think adults should be free to smoke all the pot they want, as long as they pay for it themselves and aren’t on the public dole. And you have a job and like the munchies, so you indulge. You do so at your own risk. If you’re caught with an ounce of weed in your pocket you can’t just say, “Hey, I don’t support marijuana laws and think I should be able to smoke whatever I want,” and expect to walk – the law matters more than your feelings about it.
That’s how Moore operated as a judge, and it’s why I could never support him.
Yes, he has said some really dumb things aside from his skirting of the law which helped turn me off of him as a candidate, but the underlying problem for me has always been his willingness to put his personal will above the law.
That Alabama will have a Democratic Senator is about as shocking as when Massachusetts had a Republican one. Scott Brown’s election was a message from voters about Obamacare, and that message was ignored – ultimately by both parties. What is the message from Alabama voters?
That’s a question that will be debated for a long time. The Steve Bannon camp will claim the loss is the fault of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell because he supported Luther Strange over Mo Brooks in the primary. While Brooks would have been a better choice than Strange, that doesn’t explain why he thought Moore was a better option than Strange.
Luther Strange was a prototypical generic Republican Senator – he wasn’t going to set the world on fire, nor was he going to embarrass the party. But when you want to blow the party up, good enough isn’t good enough. And Bannon wants to blow the party up.
There’s an argument for doing just that, but like the Pontiac Silverdome showed, knowing where to place the explosives and making sure they do what they’re supposed to do is more important than simply wanting to destroy.
Roy Moore was the wrong candidate, even before the allegations he’d attempted to violate underage girls surfaced. But he was the candidate of spite against McConnell, and while spite may be a powerful motivator on a personal level, it’s not an inspirational or winning message, even in a “safe state” like Alabama.
Bannon isn’t going away anytime soon, whoever is giving him money isn’t going to stop just because of a loss in Alabama. So the rest of the Republican Party is going to have to step up their game. They have to find candidates who not only can win, but deserve to win. And if Bannon wants to be anything beyond a spoiler, he has to do the same. Whether either side can remains to be seen.
Now that the special election in Alabama is over we can all return to not having to pretend we care who the senators from Alabama are, but the lessons will remain. The losers are clear.
First, Roy Moore – he had a tap-in putt for the Green Jacket and he shanked it by not being able to defend himself from allegations he had a penchant for underage girls 40 years ago. That inability to unequivocally refute the concept made the charges more believable.
Second, Steve Bannon – his candidate lost. Despite a lot of personal involvement in the campaign, what celebrity he has was not enough; and in politics, celebrity fades fast, especially when you lose.
Third, the people of Alabama – they now have someone representing them in the Senate who they would not have elected if they’d had a palatable alternative.
And finally, Al Franken – with Moore losing, he actually has to resign from the Senate now. Had Moore won, it wasn’t beyond the pale to imagine him refusing to step down since he was only forced to resign to weaponize a Moore victory against Republicans. Now he has no excuse to stick around, lest he and his fellow Democrats who reluctantly forced his hand for political purposes be exposed as frauds. In the end, this may make it all worthwhile.