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Waiting for the postmortem analysis of Tuesday’s Senate election

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

In the distant future, cooler heads will perhaps give a detailed examination of this U.S. Senate race to determine the postmortem of the news media, political parties and the body politic as a whole. Any reasonable person will look back and see this was a moment in time with no winners, only losers.

When The Washington Post story broke about Moore’s alleged sexual behavior on November 9, I asked APR’s staff to closely diagram the report because over the coming weeks I believed it would be difficult to determine facts from lies. And as one accuser became two and two became nine, and sexual allegations became pedophilia, the fevered pitch of reporting would leave even the most fair-minded reporter with some measure of confusion.

If voters turn out in large numbers on Tuesday, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Doug Jones wins the Alabama special election over Republican Roy Moore. The office of the secretary of state is predicting around 25 percent of registered voters will cast their ballots on December 12. Secretary of State John Merrill is saying his office expects approximately 800,000 votes cast by the end of balloting on Tuesday. Most strategists believe if voter turnout is 1,000,000 or greater, then Jones is victorious — less than that and he returns to Birmingham, and Moore goes to Washington.

Moore said during my interview with him last week that this would be over on December 12. I told Judge Moore, “Sir, this will never be over.”

Moore is a polarizing figure who damns modernity to the fiery pits of hell. Any reasonable individual would not be wrong to find his rhetoric offensive and disturbing. I’ve been accused of being a Moore defender. I am a defender of facts, not people. So those who make such accusations miss the point of a journalist’s job. When we first began APR, I was told we would need to pick a side. My reply was simple then and is simple now. We have chosen a side, and it’s fact. We allow all types of opinions, but facts matter most.

A Moore win is not welcomed in Washington — never has been and never will be. Even before Moore was accused of sexual misconduct with a minor, the Republican Party powerbrokers were tired of Moore’s bombastic style. They happily used him when he defied federal authority’s right to remove the Ten Commandments rock he placed in the rotunda of the Alabama Supreme Court. But Moore was supposed to be a disposable commodity that would be used and spit out when no longer helpful in painting the Left as out of touch with Republican values. Republican elites made Moore a hero of the Religious Right, but what they saw as a potent political stunt would turn into a movement, a wave Moore would continue to ride.

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If Moore takes Tuesday’s election, a tumultuous Washington reaps the whirlwind. If he loses, the Alabama Republican Party will fracture into warring factions.

It’s no surprise that U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his allies spent nearly $30 million trying to beat Moore in the Republican primary. Even before accusations by Leigh Corfman and Beverly Young Nelson surfaced, Moore was seen as an embarrassment to the Georgetown crowd. Now, he is a pariah.

Even if Moore wins on Tuesday, Alabama loses.

If Democrats think a Jones win is a victory, they need be aware that it is short lived. Any Republican will best Jones in 2020.

The only hope for the Alabama Democratic Party is to reject the politics of its old guard and embrace candidates like Selma Mayor Darrio Melton, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Mattox and State Rep. Anthony Daniels from Huntsville.

Washington establishment icons and Alabama moderates are more comfortable with a Jones win than a Moore victory because they know that in 2020, Jones will be turned out of office for a more acceptable Republican in the general election.

Perhaps the sad irony that is being overlooked and will most likely be forgotten by history is that the current political turmoil facing Alabama is rooted in a powerful man’s lust for younger women and her willingness to use him for her personal gain. The postmortem should begin with disgraced former Gov. Robert Bentley and his alleged paramour,  Rebekah Caldwell Mason, and it will end when we look in the mirror and answer: who are we really?

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Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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