Commentary: My Vote of No Confidence in Alabama's Senate Race

Posted: Sep 28, 2017 4:40 PM

I've never voted for a Democrat in my life, but Republicans sporadically tempt me to do so. Once the GOP nominated disgraced former judge Roy Moore to fill Jeff Sessions' Senate seat, I started to ponder -- as a thought experiment -- how I would vote in the upcoming special general election if I lived in Alabama.  By way of background, Moore was removed from the bench twice for refusing to comply with the rule of law, he's an embarrassing conspiracy theorist, he has a nasty penchant for attributing horrible events to divine retribution, he holds a flagrantly unconstitutional view on whether Muslims can serve in Congress (the constitution bars religious tests for public office, a point on which conservatives have rightly attacked Democrats like Dianne Feinstein just recently), and he believes that homosexuality should be illegal.  Not same-sex marriage, mind you; homosexual activity.  When he was pressed on what the punishment should be for this "criminal" conduct, he didn't commit to any specific sanctions, but chose to avoid ruling out -- er -- the death penalty:

Ah, so he can recite the history of sodomy laws in the US, but has never contemplated how they'd be enforced if reimposed, an outcome he supports.  Sure.  The strongest argument for a reluctant conservative to support Moore despite his deeply objectionable record of conduct and statements is pretty simple: The general election is a binary choice, and a vote for the Democrat is a vote for a Chuck Schumer-led majority -- which, in practice, would very likely lead to the obstruction of conservative judicial nominees who would actually adhere to the constitution and uphold their oath, unlike Roy Moore.  I'll openly concede that those are high stakes.  But for me personally, Moore is still a bridge too far.  I'm a constitutional conservative who believes in limited government.  Moore picks and chooses which bits of the constitution he'll respect, and advocates Statist, big brother, bedroom-intruding policies.  As a member of the LGBT community who doesn't feel compelled to prioritize "gay issues" above other major public policy questions, I can reconcile pulling the lever for candidates who favor a traditional definition of marriage, but who also represent my values on other important questions.  (I happen believe the cultural debate over same-sex marriage is moving toward obsolescence).  Moore's retrograde intolerance, by contrast, is appalling and disqualifying for me.  

Call me selfish, but I could not justify voting for somebody who would have me incarcerated for who I am.  Call me myopic, but I could not justify voting for somebody who would rip families apart explicitly due to a parent's "inherent[ly] evil" sexuality.  In this case, I don't care that he'd never be able to implement his bigotry.  Even if the Senate voted 99-1 against criminalizing homosexuality, I'd feel shame for having helped that one dissenting vote get elected.  In other words, the Alabama Senate race poses a rare scenario under which the Democratic Party would have a legitimate shot at winning my vote -- especially if they nominated a Joe Manchin-style moderate who would push back against his party's leftward drift from time to time, and vote to confirm qualified conservative judicial nominees.  Alright, Democrats, sell me. Oh, nope:

Todd asked Jones about a 20-week abortion ban, like the one that Republicans announced Tuesday that they will reintroduce in the House. Many European nations ban abortion after 12, 13, or 14 weeks. "You wouldn't be in favor of legislation that said ban abortion after 20 weeks, or something like that?" Todd asked. "No, I'm not in favor of anything that is going to infringe on a woman's right and her freedom to choose," Jones said. "That's just the position that I've had for many years, it's the position I continue to have." Jones quickly rushed to qualify that once a child was born, he supported its right to life, setting himself apart from fringe medical ethicists who have argued for after-birth abortion. "I want to make sure people understand that once a baby is born, I'm going to be there for that child, that's where I become a right-to-lifer," Jones said.

No restrictions on abortion, at any point in a pregnancy. Abortion on-demand, for any reason. Legally-protected human life begins at birth, and not a moment earlier. These extreme views are, to revisit a previous phrase, appalling and disqualifying for me. And they're wildly out of step not only with the American electorate writ large, but particularly with the people of Alabama.  Skimming through the "issues" page on his website, it becomes clear that Doug Jones is basically Liz Warren with a southern accent.  He praises the New Deal, attacks efforts to repeal Obamacare, insists that religious employers be forced by the government to pay for contraception, and preens about "believing in science."  Except for science about the humanity of unborn children, that is.  So in the face of a bomb-throwing, off-putting, human rights-hostile blowhard, Alabama Democrats are running a hard-left, human rights-hostile, big government radical.  Hard pass.  Given the options our two major parties have come up with ahead of December's election, I'm reduced to being thankful I'm not an Alabama voter.  By the way, liberals are reacting to Moore's victory by throwing gobs of money at Jones (who's polling in the high 30's) and whipping themselves up into a frenzy of self-righteousness about how it reflects on the wider Republican Party.  A representative entry in the genre:

Spare me.  As others have noted, Democrats may not like where this game leads.  Unless, of course, they're eager to talk about people like Robert Byrd, John Edwards, Anthony Weiner, and Bob Menendez.  Or Alcee Hastings, whose example seems uniquely pertinent.  Theirs is a party that repeatedly swept this man's sexual harassment and misogyny under the rug for political reasons, and who ran a corrupt liar under FBI investigation for president last year.  Also, if they want to lecture us on rhetorical extremism, by all means, let's discuss their policy extremism.  I'll leave you with this face-palm moment from NBC's Chuck Todd:

Moore's rap sheet is filled with distasteful and abhorrent items.  Knocking him for correctly stating that our fundamental constitutional rights stem from God, not from government, is a telling misfire.  In this case, Moore echoed the explicit beliefs of our founding fathers, who spoke the "self-evident" truth that human beings are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.  Impeach Jefferson.