It’s difficult to overstate the national impact of a single state’s upcoming election to fill a seat in the U.S. Senate.
Two men, Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones, are vying for the chance to succeed Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who once represented Alabama in this Senate seat.
But, oh, that’s where the routineness of this election ends. It’s nothing of the sort. This election might tell the nation plenty about one of the nation’s two major parties.
Moore has been accused by several women of making improper sexual advances on them when they were underage girls. Yes, they are allegations. Nothing’s been proven. Moore denies doing what the women say he did.
But Moore’s denials aren’t going over well with Republican leaders in both chambers of Congress. GOP senators are turning their backs on Moore. They want nothing to do with him. They say they believe the women’s account of what Moore allegedly did.
Here, though, is the rub: The race is neck-and-neck in Alabama. Jones, a former federal prosecutor, has been unable — to date — to put any distance between himself and Moore.
I’ve chatted briefly via social media with a couple of journalism friends in Alabama. One of them, a university journalism professor in the northern part of the state, has indicated that Moore is ripe for defeat; the other, an opinion journalist in the southern part of Alabama, believes Moore’s evangelical Christian base is going to rally behind him and might be able to neutralize any bleeding of support from moderate GOP voters.
That is the biggest puzzle to me. The evangelical vote is standing by their guy, who’s been accused of sexually abusing children. Moore talks the talk of a religious zealot, and he well might be the real thing.
The message that comes from the election on Dec. 12 could tell the rest of the country one of two things. If Moore wins, the message might be that GOP voters devalue the moral content of their candidate as long as he is able to provide them political advantage in the halls of power. If Jones wins, the message might be that Republicans — in Alabama, at least — have had their bellyful candidates who talk the talk but who behave badly in the extreme.
Regular readers of this blog know how I hope this election turns out. Moore scared the crap out of me before the allegations came to light. He doesn’t respect the Constitution’s establishment of a secular government.
I also am willing to join congressional Republicans who say they believe the women’s accusations of sexual abuse.
If only Alabama voters are able to make the correct choice.