In a few weeks, the people of Alabama will say a lot about themselves and the state of our politics. Over the past week, no less than five women have come forward, bravely on the record, detailing accounts of Senate candidate Roy Moore (R-AL) sexually harassing, abusing, or molesting them when they were under age and he was a 30 something prosecutor. He isolated these girls in his car or his cabin in the woods, exploiting the opportunity and power over them he had at that moment. Apparently, he was barred from the local shopping mall because his harassment of young girls was a known problem. Despite this revelation, according to the most recent polls, the race is either even or Moore has a slight lead over Doug Jones (D-AL). So why is accused pedophile Roy Moore still on the verge of being elected to the U.S. Senate?
While Moore has been well known to the people of Alabama, in addition to his fire brand conservatism, the people know him as a candidate that has lost previous races and has been kicked off the Alabama Supreme Court not once, but twice for refusing to follow the law. He advocates extreme positions concerning Muslims, the LGBTQ community, etc., that make the rest of the Republican party appear tolerant. Moore has denied the allegations, but his denials are not credible. He said he did not ever know the most recent woman to come forward, yet he signed her yearbook with a very personal message. To their credit, many Republican leaders have publicly stated that they believe the women and that Roy Moore should not serve in the Senate. A few, including Senator Jeff Flake, went as far as to say that if the choice was between fellow Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones, people should vote for Democrat Jones. News reports show some Alabama Republican voters saying the same thing. However, the polls suggest Moore still has a strong chance of winning.
Doug Jones is an Alabama Democrat – more akin to the old Blue Dogs, not a Nancy Pelosi liberal. Although Alabama elects very few Democrats, especially to state-wide office, Jones should at least emerge as a viable candidate. This is especially true when his opponent is a far-right extremist, been kicked off the Supreme Court, and faces credible allegations of pedophilia that include sexual harassment and assault. Are people really that partisan so as to support a candidate like Moore because he is a Republican, thus opposing Jones simply because he is a Democrat? Political parties have played a key role in our elections for hundreds of years and party affiliation is nothing new. Is it okay to blindly vote by party line and should it be hard to vote for the other party’s candidates? Even if so, there must be exceptions. When Klansman David Duke won the Republican nomination for Louisiana Governor, Republicans including President Bush endorsed the Democratic candidate despite being a flawed candidate himself. There are simply lines that cannot be crossed, even in partisan politics. If David Duke was disqualified for his affiliation with white supremacy and the Ku Klux Klan, shouldn’t extremist Roy Moore be disqualified for his apparent pedophilia and sexual harassment and assault?
Republican leaders including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have been exploring schemes to prevent Roy Moore from serving in the Senate should he win. We do not know how much of this effort is based on principle – standing up to prevent a man like Moore from joining the Senate – or more likely based on power – Moore’s campaign is focused against McConnell and a promise to replace him as Majority Leader. It takes a two-thirds vote of the Senate to expel Roy Moore (should he win) and arguably Republicans and Democrats would unite in rare unity to reach this result. However, there is no guarantee this effort would be successful. There is another scheme for current Senator Luther Strange to step down early to enable the Governor to appoint Jeff Sessions (who would resign or be fired as U.S. Attorney General) back to the seat he previously held. The theory there is that he has enough name recognition and support to win as write-in candidate. Another big risk. We cannot afford to take big risks with so much at stake.
Moore never should have been the Republican candidate even with what was known at the time, but he won. Then even worse information came to light. The election may have begun as a campaign of political philosophy and priority to influence tax policy, health care, etc., but it is no longer about that. Some things supersede politics and call for action by all people regardless of party. Pedophilia, sexual harassment and assault are among those critical issues that transcend normal politics. Any political differences no longer matter when faced with a dilemma such as the possibility of electing Roy Moore with all we know. It is time to do the right thing. The nation is watching you, Alabama. Will you hide behind partisanship and vote for the alleged pedophile with the extremist background or will you do what must be done for the good of your state and for the nation.