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Opinion | After another shellacking, what now for Alabama Democrats?

“At this point, voting in this state has become a team sport. Republicans are the popular team.”

Election Day 2014 - Democrats and Republicans in the campaign

Late Tuesday night — but much earlier than he hoped — Alabama Sen. Doug Jones called his challenger, Tommy Tuberville, to concede. They weren’t able to connect, according to Tuberville’s campaign, so Jones just delivered his concession to news media. He told them he wanted to congratulate Tuberville, he vowed to work with him and help with the transition and he said he hoped Tuberville would work with all Alabamians. 

A few minutes later, Tuberville took the stage and told the liberal losers that “they can go to hell and get a job.” He said he was quoting “my opponent’s ad,” but that ad was a video of Tuberville saying those words to students who were heckling the former coach. 

I don’t point this out — this difference in decency between the candidates in a U.S. Senate race in a Bible-belt state — to necessarily knock Tuberville or to praise Jones. I do it to highlight what Democrats can learn from yet another thorough tail kickin’. 

Stop worrying about decency. 

The overwhelming majority of voters in this state do not care about decency. Or honesty. Or caring for the poor, feeding the hungry or healing the sick. 

Look, I know it doesn’t make any sense. It never has. Democrats keep thinking that at some point the majority of this electorate will wise up and vote for their own interests. But they’re not. 

I mean, look who they elected in landslide victories tonight. A guy who literally never promised to do a single thing for the state (Tuberville), a guy who came within a very kind jury decision of going to jail on felony perjury charges and who also had zero ideas for solving Alabama’s problems (Barry Moore), a guy who doesn’t even live here (Robert Aderholt) and a woman who has sold Alabamians out so often she should be forced to wear sponsor patches from the big businesses that fund her campaigns (Twinkle Cavanaugh). 

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What were the platforms upon which these candidates ran? Simple: We love Trump, guns, good jobs and hate “socialism!”

That was every single ad from them. Three basic shots, just insert different candidates: (1) walking down the sidewalk talking with sheriff/citizen/farmer, (2) standing near pickup truck with rifle/shotgun, and (3) walking with workers in a nondescript factory/warehouse. 

Not a single thing about any problem facing this state. Not one. 

And here’s the other striking thing: Not a single promise to work across the aisle, to bring more civility to politics, to be better people. 

Because voters don’t care. 

At this point, voting in this state has become a team sport. Republicans are the popular team. If you want to win, you have to stop that phenomenon. 

You have to make it acceptable and cool for people to post on their Facebook pages about Democratic candidates and events. You have to make it beneficial for businesses to support Democratic candidates and initiatives. 

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And you can’t do any of that at the top of the ballot. Maybe not even the top half of the ballot. Not now. 

I mean, let’s be real here. Jones was the best senate candidate Democrats could hope for. He was a former prosecutor. He’s smart as hell. He went after the KKK. He worked across the aisle. He was well-liked by establishment Republicans. And he was incredibly well funded by a national movement. 

He just lost by 20 points. To a dude who doesn’t know what the Voting Rights Act is.

Don’t get me wrong, that shouldn’t be a downer. It should be a clear sign that the party-building efforts being implemented by executive director Chris England and so many others are necessary and will take time. And that the party’s future has to be built from the ground up. 

The good news is ADP, thanks to Jones’ win and his willingness to take on the reconstruction of the party (possibly to his own detriment), is better positioned now financially and strategically than it should be. Especially after the years of neglect and mismanagement. 

There also are important Democratic strongholds around the state — in Jefferson, Montgomery, Tuscaloosa and Mobile counties. And there’s a growing behemoth in Madison County. 

That means millions of dollars under the control of Democratic lawmakers. Relationship-building opportunities that can be used cultivate candidates, and more importantly, to condition voters to choose Democratic candidates. 

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And that’s the slow, methodical pathway back. Win the cities, then the suburbs, then the districts.

Democrats have better policies. The majority of voters in this state would be better served by those policies.  

But it doesn’t matter if they’re not willing to listen.

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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