Alabama newspaper columnist John Archibald thinks most white folks in his home state will ignore, or won't believe, credible charges that Republican Roy Moore engaged in sexual misconduct with teenagers and will send him to the Senate in a special election Dec. 12.
Time was, nearly every white Alabamian voted against Republicans just because they were Republicans. More on that in a minute.
Recent polls show the race between the GOP nominee and underdog Democrat Doug Jones tightening after the Washington Post broke the story that Moore, 70, allegedly encountered the girls—one of whom was 14—when he was in his 30s.
Alabama is one of the reddest Republican states. President Trump carried Alabama with more than 62 percent of the vote, almost all of it white.
The special election was called because in February, then Republican Gov. Robert Bentley appointed fellow Republican Luther Strange to succeed GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions, whom President Trump named attorney general.
Trump endorsed Strange. Then he bizarrely backed away from his nominee before Sept. 27 when GOP primary voters chose Moore over Strange by more than nine percentage points.
All along the campaign trail, Strange and Moore tried to outdo each other in piling on the praise for Trump.
Moore hotly denies he is guilty of sexual misconduct. But after the scandal broke, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky—not a Moore favorite—and other GOP brass called on Moore to step down if the charges were true.
Yet before the Post story, McConnell and other GOP Senate bigwigs were set to welcome Moore. Never mind that his words and deeds convicted him of racism, sexism, misogyny, nativism, xenophobia, homophobia and religious bigotry. "At least they drew the line at pedophilia," a Bluegrass State Democrat jabbed.
Strange is as reactionary as Moore is, though he tones down the demagoguery and apparently isn't a pedophile. (Moore and Strange might fare well among a lot of Republicans in Kentucky, especially in rural, Bible-Belt western Kentucky where I’ve lived all my 67 years.)
In any event, Archibald isn't a Moore fan, so don't slay the messenger. He's a solid journalist who calls ‘em as he sees ‘em, even if he doesn't like what he sees.
He views Moore as the favorite over Democrat Doug Jones. NBC interviewed more than 15 GOP voters after the Post story. All of them said they were sticking with Moore.
It looks like hogs will fly and another Jones from north of the border—Butch—will coach the Crimson Tide before most Alabama Republican whites will vote for a Democrat.
Thus, so far anyway, it looks like hogs will fly and another Jones from north of the border—Butch—will coach the Crimson Tide before most Alabama Republican whites will vote for a Democrat.
Meanwhile, there’s irony aplenty in white Dixie's deep fealty to the Republican party. Alabamians' ardor for the likes of Moore is matched only by their ancestors’ abhorrence for Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president.
In 1860, when Lincoln ran and won, Southern white voters, almost to a man, despised him and his Yankee “Black Republican Party” as the direst of threats to slavery.
Lincoln would have imperiled his life had he gone south to campaign. His name wasn't even on the ballot in Alabama, nor in any other future Confederate state, except Virginia.
Pro-slavery Southern Democrat John C. Breckinridge, a Kentuckian and soon-to-be Confederate general and secretary of war, swept the South. (Conservative Constitutional Unionist John Bell won slave state Kentucky, where Lincoln polled just 1,364 votes. Kentucky didn't join the Confederacy.)
Alabama was the fourth state to secede, exiting the Union on Jan. 11, 1861.
The preamble to Alabama's secession ordnance pronounced Lincoln and the Republicans “avowedly hostile to the domestic institutions and to the peace and security of the people of the State of Alabama,” according to Apostles of Disunion by Charles B. Dew. “Institutions” meant slavery; “people” meant whites.
In late December, 1860, when Alabama was on the verge of disunion, state authorities sent Kentucky-born S.F. Hale to Frankfort, the capital of his home state, to convince Gov. Beriah Magoffin, a Breckinridge Democrat, to lead Kentucky out of the Union. He failed. But Dew included Hale's rabidly racist letter of introduction.
Hale said president-elect Lincoln stood "forth as the representative of the fanaticism of the North." He claimed that Lincoln's popularity, and the popularity of the Republican Party in the northern free states, rested "upon the one dogma--the equality of the races, white and black."
Hale added that Republican leaders lauded Lincoln’s election "not simply as a change of administration, but as the inauguration of new principles and a new theory of government, and even the downfall of slavery."
The Confederacy and slavery fell in 1865. The South's first Republican party was elected to power in the postwar Reconstruction Era.
It was far from Roy Moore's GOP. The party was liberal and biracial. The Republicans led the most democratic and reformist governments the South had ever seen.
Nonetheless, the out-of-power white, conservative Democratic "redeemers" charged that the Republican governments were crooked—run by "ignorant" African Americans (not the term they used), Yankee "carpetbaggers" and "scalawags," native-born whites. White Democrats like Jones are "scalawags" in Republican Dixie today.
"Mythologies about black officeholders formed a central pillar of this outlook," wrote Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Eric Foner in The Nation. "Their alleged incompetence and venality illustrated the larger 'crime' of Reconstruction—placing power in the hands of a race incapable of participating in American democracy.
"....Historians have long since demolished this racist portrait of the era. Today Reconstruction is viewed as a noble if flawed experiment, a forerunner of the modern struggle for racial justice."
Boosted by the Ku Klux Klan, the Democratic party's murdering, arsonist, terrorist ally, the "redeemers" ultimately regained control. After Yankee Republicans gave up on Reconstruction in the name of "national unity," the white Democrats disfranchised African Americans, established segregation and racial discrimination as the law and the social order and employed violence, or the threat of violence, to maintain white supremacy.
The Republicans—ever linked to Lincoln, "Abolition Invaders" in blue uniforms, and the end of slavery—remained a detested minority in the Democratic "Solid South" until the late 1960s and 1970s when the GOP adopted the "Southern Strategy." The idea was to win over conservative white Democrats who hated President Lyndon Johnson, a “scalawag” Texan, and northern and western Democrats for championing landmark civil rights legislation aimed at overturning Jim Crow laws.
Because of the Democrats’ southern base, more congressional Republicans than Democrats voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But not long afterward, the GOP tacked rightward and transformed itself into the party of civil rights inaction and "states’ rights,” Southern code for slavery and Jim Crow.
African Americans left the party of Lincoln and Liberty for the Democrats; white Dixie became the GOP’s base. The Democrats inherited the legacy of Lincoln and the original Republican party.
“Fueled by the mega-donations of the mega-rich, today’s Republican Party is not just far from being the party of Lincoln: It’s really the party of Jefferson Davis,” Harold Meyerson wrote in the Washington Post even before Trump, the Yankee George Wallace, was elected.
Added Meyerson, “[The GOP]...suppresses black voting; it opposes federal efforts to mitigate poverty; it objects to federal investment in infrastructure and education just as the antebellum South opposed internal improvements and rejected public education; it scorns compromise. It is nearly all white. It is the lineal descendant of Lee’s army, and the descendants of Grant’s have yet to subdue it.”
Anyway, Archibald, who writes for the Birmingham News and Al.com, has been all over Moore and the white folks of the Jesus-loves-me-but-He-can't-stand-you persuasion who are rallying to him. He cut loose in his Veterans Day column, which I saw on AL.com.
The musing was headlined “Roy Moore Defense: Unbuckling the Bible Belt”
“Take it off, Alabama. Take it aaaaall off. You're naked as the day you were born, naked as porn, clothed in the manner of the emperor.
“In nothing but audacity and deceit. And hypocrisy.
“Buck naked. Or as they say down in Sipsey, butt nekkid. (We say "buck nekkid" in western Kentucky.)
“You've shown the world the stuff you used to have enough decency to conceal. You've shown even to yourself that what you say is a lie and what you believe is as flexible as the moment demands.
“You're a poser, Alabama. And the Bible Belt is down around your knees. You stamp yourself with the label of God and good and morality, and it means nothing to you.”
“Not more than politics. Or ideology. Or your own lack of shame.”