By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter
So, here we are.
Roy Moore v. Doug Jones.
The race that determines … who gets to rep Alabama in the U.S. Senate for the next two years. And that’s pretty much it.
I keep hearing that this race is vitally important to the state, that it will determine who we are as a state, that it will set the state back years if Moore wins.
But that’s all hype. And I’m not just saying that because I think my guy is going to lose. – In fact, I think the opposite. I think Jones will win.
The fact is this race won’t determine anything, good or bad. Oh, it might serve as proof — something for columnists and political commentators to point to as ironclad proof that Alabama is way screwed up in the priorities department.
But the race itself, and the outcome of it, won’t determine anything.
This race has already laid bare our problems in this state. It has exposed a deep and troubling divide between groups of citizens — walls created by race, income, nationality and religion — and it has shown Alabama to be far from the welcoming, hospitable state that we like to portray.
But more than anything, this Senate race has exposed significant problems in the way so many people in this state — in this conservative bubble — get their news.
That has been the most troubling part for me.
Look, I think conservative governance is mostly rooted in selfishness and greed, and that it has rarely worked for any serious length of time for any reasonable size group of people. But I also can appreciate why some people believe — and want to believe — that it works, and I can acknowledge that not all of the reasons for wanting it to work are rooted in self-serving reasons.
I also know that having people who believe in conservative principles is important to the American system of governance, which relies on two opposing views settling on a compromise that gives us just the right amount of both.
But for the past month, as the state and national media have peeled back layer after layer of Alabama voters’ beliefs and reasons for voting for their candidate of choice, what has spilled out has often not been beliefs rooted in conservative or liberal principles, but beliefs rooted in outright falsehoods and social media fake news.
Never in my life did I think I’d see Alabama citizens — particularly church-going, Jesus-praising citizens — turn so quickly and harshly on a group of women (Moore’s accusers) whom they had no reason to doubt. And the harsh and hurtful things that were said — most of them drawing from social media speculation about the women’s past — were disgusting.
On the other side — and this is not an attempt to equate these two things, because they are not equitable — there are people who firmly believe that ten women have accused Moore of sexual assault, when the actual number is two.
Is that who we are now? A state full of people who will believe anything we see “online” if it in some ways reinforces things we really want to believe?
If so, it’s incredibly disappointing.
But I know how we got here. Somewhere along the way, almost by accident, a bunch of people came to realize the value of telling people what they want to hear. And so, there are now liberal and conservative news websites, radio stations and TV networks, and the loyal viewers of each one proclaim the others to be “biased” and “fake news.”
Even the dope in the White House is in on the game.
It’s terrible. And the result is a race like this one between Moore and Jones — one filled with misinformation and hostility — and people voting against their interests again and again.
So, no, the outcome of today’s election will not determine who we are as a state.
We’ve already laid that out for all to see.