Froma Harrop: Alabama was a win, not just from Dems
The Democratic conquest of a senate seat in Alabama produced a lot of winners other than the victor himself, Doug Jones. Many were Republicans, including some who voted for the inexplicable Roy Moore.
The obvious celebrants, of course, are Democrats. For them, it wasn’t all dumb luck. The state party had a strong candidate in place even when the race seemed a long shot. (There’s a lesson there for Democrats in all 50 states.) Democrats also had the good sense to discourage an invasion by out-of-state liberals ‘splaining what’s what to the locals.
Other big winners were blacks and the organizers who spurred them to the polls. The African-American turnout tends to fall in special elections. This time they came out in force, delivering Jones victory with the help of appalled suburbanites.
The winners included Republicans who refused to go there — there being a candidate known for primitive racism, homophobia and xenophobia (never mind the credible charges that he sexually stalked girls). Many Alabama Republicans really did want a Republican to replace Atty. General Jeff Sessions. Their willingness to vote for a Democrat, or write in a name other than Roy Moore, was a tribute to principle.
And the Republican who outshone them all was Alabama’s senior senator, Richard Shelby. Even when most predictors were expecting Moore to prevail, Shelby refused to support him. And he went a step beyond, announcing that he would not vote for him.
Alabama’s economy was undoubtedly a winner. The election of Moore would have greatly shocked many of the foreign companies who’ve been setting up shop in the state. (Foreign manufacturers currently employ over 87,000 Alabamians.) People around the NASA space facility in Huntsville must also be breathing easier today.
More than a reprieve, the remarkable election of Jones could actually be a boost for Alabama’s economy. If the executives at Amazon aren’t treating Birmingham’s quest to host its second headquarters with more respect, I’d be surprised.
The results in Alabama should be a blessing for sane Republican leaders everywhere. If they add in the lesson of their party’s recent blowout losses in Virginia, they’ll know to start getting tough with the alt-right knuckle-draggers.
Speaking of which, there is no way to massage the results in a pleasing way for President Trump. He backed the Republican who lost the primary to Moore, and then backed loser Moore. Many are stunned at a recent poll showing as many Alabamians disapproving of Trump as approving. Alabama was supposed to be the heart and soul of Trump country. Something’s changing, you think?
But Trump came out well next to Steve Bannon, the man most responsible for handing a reliably Republican senate seat to Democrats. When it looked as though Moore would win, the ringmaster of right-wing ugliness rushed down to a rural corner of the state to lead the parade.
Unshaven and dressed like a slob, the native of New Jersey commandeered the stage, ‘splaining what’s what to the country folk of the Deep South. With the election results in, Bannon — a creature of Hollywood, alumna of Goldman Sachs and graduate of Harvard — can be crowned the fraud he always was.
The voters in Alabama may have actually done the Republican Party a service by cutting Bannon down to size. But they’ve also done the country a service, cooling a national fever that the age of Trump has fed.
Speaking of which (again), Trump wrote in a post-election tweet that “Republicans will have another shot at this seat in a very short period of time.” That should remind all Americans that they will have another shot at Trump’s seat — and in an even shorter period of time.
Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop.