The Tide rolled, all right – right over Roy Moore and President Donald Trump.
Voters in Alabama repudiated the hate-filled rhetoric of President Trump’s endless tweets and the cynics who figured that even someone under the gun for alleged sexual misconduct, twice removed from the state Supreme Court, an inarticulate bully who swaggered around a stage carrying a pistol, could be elected to the U.S. Senate from Alabama.
On Tuesday, Doug Jones, a moderate Democrat, won Jeff Sessions’ Senate seat, which he’ll hold until 2021. It was a resounding defeat for Roy Moore, a pathetic candidate who was a caricature of the most distressing characteristics of right-wing candidates and advocates such as Steve Bannon, the former Trump aide who pushed Moore with a bullying arrogance.
Republicans lost two ways here. They’re down another Senate seat, which is going to make it harder to push through Trump’s agenda, whatever it is. And they’ve been slapped back on the eve of the beginning of the campaign season for 2020, when their majorities in the Senate and House might be at serious risk despite gerrymandering and voter suppression laws and the other tricks GOP leaders in the states (including North Carolina) have pulled.
This was an uh-oh moment for a reckless, stumbling president, who tried to soothe this defeat, really to soothe himself, by – and this is Trump in a nutshell – reminding people in tweets that he’d endorsed Moore’s Republican rival in the GOP primary because he knew Moore would have trouble in the general election. Right. This, despite the fact that Trump endorsed Moore wholeheartedly. This follows Trump’s lifelong pattern of shaking off all responsibility from his own shoulders when the going gets tough.
But this was a rejection of Trump, and it was, signaled by a heavy turnout, a rejection by the people of Alabama of the stereotypes that have long been applied to that heart of the old Confederacy by the rest of the country.
On Tuesday, Alabamians cast off those stereotypes for now and stood up for themselves.
Moore should have been a nightmare candidate for Republicans (he was, as it turned out) – accused by several women, including two who were teenagers when he knew them, of improper sexual advances, and twice removed as chief justice of the state Supreme Court. He may have been the ultimate Bannon candidate, someone who would have made a mockery of his office. Bannon basically signaled his intention to turn the government upside down after Trump took office, showing no regard for the institutions and traditions of this democracy. He was ousted when his behavior became too much for now-Chief of Staff John Kelly.
Now it will be interesting to see if there is a reset in terms of Trump’s bullying of the GOP leadership in Congress. Will he take shots at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, as he has in the past? Will he continue to treat Congress, and even Republicans therein, as more an annoyance than a contributing representative of the people? Probably, because Trump is simply ignorant of the checks and balances in government, or in the ways of Washington. But now McConnell and Republicans in the House as well will be more empowered by this Trump failure.
Things have changed. For Republican leaders, the fear is that come 2018, they will change even more.