The Omen of Alabama

Doug Jones’s defeat of Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate special election is yet the latest signal that the accommodators of Donald Trump, those who have normalized and bolstered him, the gutless, schismatic conservatives who abandoned principle to follow a pariah, will have hell to pay in 2018.

Yes, Roy Moore was defeated, but it can never be fully erased from history or memory that he was endorsed by this president and supported by the Republican National Committee. All of Roy Moore’s sins are their sins, and they will wear that scarlet R straight into the midterms.

.. Moore still won the Republican vote and the white vote and, yes, the “white born-again Christian” vote. These people contorted their faith to support a man accused of unthinkable transgressions.

They made a mockery of Christian faith and moral fidelity.

.. they are motivated and insistent that the past will not defeat the future.

.. black voters, particularly black women, have been summoned to save America from its worst impulses and to establish that they are the most loyal and crucial constituency of a Democratic Party that still doesn’t grant them enough respect or deference

.. The Resistance has its own Southern Strategy.

.. It proved that Trump was a fringe candidate who tapped into an American ugliness and rode it to a fluke victory with the help of a foreign adversary.

.. Republicans must brace for the reckoning. If the Resistance can maintain its intensity — and there is no sign of it weakening — the midterms may well amount to a purge.

Alabama Sends a Message

Alabama evangelical Christians who supported Mr. Moore over appointed Sen. Luther Strange in the GOP primary should know that they have now made a conservative Supreme Court nominee less likely if Justice Anthony Kennedy retires in 2018. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins will hold the balance of judicial confirmation power, and watch the media lobby them in waves.

.. The Alabama result shows that Mr. Bannon cares less about conservative policy victories than he does personal king-making. He wants to depose Mitch McConnell as Majority Leader even if it costs Republicans Senate control. GOP voters, take note: Mr. Bannon is for losers.

Alabama, Despite History of Unruly Politics, Has ‘Never Seen Anything Like This’

Mr. Moore has gone about creating a real-life political science experiment, testing whether last year’s presidential campaign was an anomaly or whether voters remain just as willing to shrug off truth-stretching, multiple charges of sexual misconduct and incendiary speech.

.. told an African-American attendee at one of his events that America was last great when families were intact during the slavery era.

.. While Mr. Jones has not said anything nearly as incendiary as Mr. Moore has, he has attempted some political jujitsu amid the campaign’s racial politics, sending out a mailer featuring an African-American that read: “Think if a black man went after high school girls anyone would try to make him a senator?”

.. “I see parallels with one,” he said. “George Wallace.”

.. Wallace, the fiery segregationist governor, comes up often here these days. He was by turns an avid boxer, a circuit judge with lofty ambitions, a state leader who blatantly flouted federal authority, a symbol of defiance to the direction of the national culture, a hero to many rural and small-town whites and a politician who ran national campaigns on a promise to “send them a message” — all descriptions that perfectly fit Mr. Moore.

.. The elder Folsom elevated an Alabama tradition of tub-thumping economic populism in a state dominated for much of its history by a coterie of wealthy planters and industrialists, known as the Big Mules. While Folsom railed against the elite-owned “lyin’ newspapers,” much like Mr. Moore and right-wing populists today, he championed women and blacks along with poor whites.

Why abortion — not sexual misconduct — is likely to decide the Alabama Senate race

Roy Moore is trying to save himself with a tried and true conservative move: resorting to the politics of abortion.

If Republican Roy Moore survives allegations of sexual misconduct (several involving minors) and beats Democrat Doug Jones in Alabama’s Senate election Dec. 12, evangelical single-issue abortion voters will likely deliver the victory.

.. Understanding the power of the abortion issue, Moore’s wife, Kayla, claimed at a rally that Jones is the real threat to children, because he supports “full-term abortion,” which she defined as “suck[ing] a child’s brains out at the moment before birth.” Such a procedure, however, simply does not exist, as states generally restrict abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy, except in cases of medical necessity.

.. they claim to want to protect children (which they deem unborn fetuses to be), but appear to actually care more about securing a vote for their legislative priorities

.. Before the 1960s, an American woman could obtain a legal abortion only by traveling abroad or having a local doctor persuade a (typically all-male) hospital committee that a pregnancy threatened her life. In practice, this allowed wealthier and better-connected women, who were the family and friends of doctors, to obtain legal, safe abortions under false pretenses — while everyone else was forced to seek illegal, often deadly, abortions.

Fed up with this situation, male reformers from medicine, law and some more progressive religious communities began trying to legalize abortion.

.. Although not all feminist groups supported legal abortion, most seized upon the issue because it fit their larger priorities quite nicely. They wanted to redefine womanhood outside the strict confines of motherhood and domesticity, and as part of this project, they strove to reform the law to offer new opportunities to women. Having the legal right to choose whether to become a mother thus became the ultimate expression of women’s rights.

.. Conservatives turned seemingly unrelated issues, such as lowering taxes, a longtime Republican priority, into a way to strike a blow against legal abortion (by eliminating Medicaid funding for the procedure).

.. Thus, opposing legal abortion, which reformers had positioned as the ultimate expression of women’s rights, became backing the traditional American family (a particularly powerful expression because the nuclear family arrangement had long been promoted as distinguishing America from its communist adversary, the USSR)

.. The economic recession in the 1970s, which left many male breadwinners struggling to keep their jobs, made it easier for conservative Republicans to portray the efforts of feminists and their Democratic allies as a systemic assault upon the family unit. They claimed that by pushing for more opportunities for women, feminists and Democrats were undermining male breadwinners and taking their jobs at a time when men needed them most.

.. When Moore and his supporters court single-issue abortion voters — notably, Alabama’s evangelical Republican base — they are saying: Doug Jones is for feminism, which means he backs women, like Moore’s accusers, who are trying to diminish male power and seize it for their own purposes. Mentioning Jones’s abortion stance also signals that he rejects the traditional nuclear family and women’s domestic and maternal responsibilities within it.

.. Moore, on the other hand, is presented as a conservative Republican who, whatever his personal failings, is fighting a spiritual battle for Christian values as well as the traditional nuclear family and its prescribed gender roles. This means that as a man, his expressions of sexuality need not be questioned, while a woman’s must be channeled into motherhood. In this sense, rallying to save unborn children is perfectly consistent with backing a candidate accused of assaulting minors.