Give U.S. Sen. Doug Jones credit. He isn’t pandering for Alabama votes, and that’s just another reason to respect this public servant.
I was stunned, but then not stunned, to see that Jones, a Democrat from Birmingham, is only polling at 41 percent approval. Alabama is, after all, solidly for Donald Trump, a now-impeached president.
So the political move for Jones would have been to vote for the majority Republican Senate rules on Trump’s impeachment.
Instead, Jones did the right thing and voted against the rules, mainly because they simply are sanctioning a coverup and a sham trial in the Senate.
No question that Trump should be removed from office. He’s an awful human being. He cares about one person: himself. He’s using his office to enrich himself, and pressuring other countries to interfere in this year’s election. Trump is trying to set himself up as some sort of powerful oligarch because, after all, his idols are Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Al Saud, and North Korea’s Kim Jung-un. They are all despots who rule their countries harshly, and none is above murdering opponents, journalists, and others.
Despite Trump not being fit for office, the great majority of Alabama voters love him. Trump identifies with many of Alabama’s legacy disorders: Racism, xenophobia, misogyny, homophobia. Trump tacitly gives permission to display such behavior in public.
So the political move for Jones was to vote with Republicans on the terrible impeachment rules. Instead, Jones voted against the rules, which don’t require evidence being withheld by Trump to be produced or even calling witnesses like happens in a real trial.
What too many Alabama voters see in Jones, however, is the D his first name starts with. Jones is a Democrat who defeated disgraced former Chief Justice Roy Moore in a special election in 2017.
Republicans, in large part, vote straight tickets because they’re too lazy to learn about all the candidates on the ballot. They just dismiss Jones out of hand because he is a Democrat.
They want to paint Jones as some leftist legislator even further in the margins than Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren.
That simply is not true. Jones is a true, moderate Democrat. He has represented Alabama well and with dignity. Former U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions can’t say that. Sessions, who Trump fired as U.S. attorney general, is now running in the Republican primary March 3 to take his old seat back. He may very well get it because Republicans like nothing better than voting against their interests. And practically every Republican running for the Senate nomination will vote against Alabama citizens’ interests.
They’ll vote to cut Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Jones won’t.
They’ll try to finish what’s left of Obamacare. Jones won’t.
They’ll tell women what they can do with their bodies. Jones won’t.
They’ll pay little heed to education or infrastructure or child welfare. Jones supports all that.
They’ll support Trump’s god-awful and useless border wall. Jones won’t.
The United States already spends more on its military than China, Saudi Arabia, India, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and Germany combined. They’ll keep raising military spending, while starving other important programs. Jones won’t.
But Jones is a Democrat, so that makes him a “socialist,” “communist,” “libtard,” and “baby killer.”
It doesn’t have to be that way in Alabama, but for a decent percent of voters, it is exactly that way. They do not learn from their mistakes, or the state’s mistakes.
Someday the pendulum will swing back, and I hope it happens in 2020. I really do.
Does that make me an optimist, or just naïve?
Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column every week for Alabama Political Reporter.