Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Just Desserts, Indeed

Jeff Darcy,

Yesterday was big, there's no denying it. Democrat Doug Jones winning a Senate seat in Ala-frickin-bama was, six months ago, about as likely a prospect as Justin Bieber releasing a prog rock concept album, or Sarah Palin saying anything that makes sense1. Yet, with a combination of credible claims of sexual assault levied against Republican Roy Moore, and Moore's own eccentric behavior (showing up at a rally wearing an old West sheriff's outfit, complete with six-gun, as if he was Yosemite Sam or something) and past history of racism, xenophobia, homophobia, misogyny, and religious zealotry, Alabama elected a Democrat to serve in the Senate for the first time in 25 years2.

There is much rejoicing over this in the online world today. People are giddy over the prospect of a decreased the Republican majority in the Senate. They are eagerly anticipating the turnover of the Senate in 20183. They are viewing this as a sign of hope for turning over the House of Representatives in 20184. Mitch McConnell has already poked his head out of his shell and seen his shadow, which means that Doug Jones will not be sworn in as Senator until after the tax vote has been taken (you know, 'cuz ol' Turtle Boy is like that), and the online world is already screaming at him to just do his job and stop being such an asshole, already5.

And to top it all off, Moore isn't conceding, saying the count was too close (a spread of 20,175 out of 1,344,406 votes, or 1.54%). To be fair, it is a close vote (the difference between the two is less than the 22,819 write-in votes, for example), but it is well outside the bounds of the 0.5% that would trigger an automatic recount. Also to be fair, Moore has the right to a recount if it is outside that range, but he must bear the expense of conducting such a recount.

This is all well and good, as far as it goes, but there is a very important point that is not getting the attention it deserves. The fact that the vote was this close illustrates the blind partisanship that is being fostered in our political climate today.

Take a look at the candidates. On the one hand, there's Doug Jones, who successfully prosecuted the Birmingham church bombings, and who has a very good record as a United States attorney, and who was so untarnished that, even going by the rather loose "editorial standards6" at Breitbart, they were unable to dig up anything to make him look bad. I mean, they guy makes an Eagle Scout look like Charles Manson.

On the other hand, there's Roy Moore, who has been accused of sexual assault of teen-aged girls, who publicly stated that families were somehow better off when slavery was still a thing, who has defied Supreme Court orders to remove the Ten Commandments from public grounds and to honor requests for marriage licenses for same-sex couples, and who claims he's not a racist because "my attorney's a Jew."

What this says, then, is that for 650,436 people in Alabama, a racist, homophobic, misogynistic, xenophobic, religious zealot who was accused of molesting children was somehow a better choice than a Democrat.

Some would chalk this up to Doug Jones' pro-choice stance in a state that is avowedly opposed to abortion rights, but that is only part of it. The reality is that we have been so thoroughly demonizing opponents in this country that it has become virtually impossible for people to even consider talking to someone from the other side. Democrats are all liberal snowflakes, hellbent on bending the masses to their will and forcing them to have publicly funded abortions. Republicans are all plutocratic thugs who, quite frankly, don't give a hot damn about anyone who doesn't contribute at least $75,000 a year to their re-election campaigns and who simply want to kill all the poor people.

Obviously, neither of these characterizations are true, but the fact remains that they have been so ingrained in the minds of the electorate, such a fundamental part of our political discourse, that to even suggest to a Republican that a Democrat might have a good idea on any given issue (or vice-versa) elicits much the same reaction you would get if you tried to remind people that Adolf Hitler did actively support the development of the Volkswagen and therefore wasn't all bad.

Yesterday was a good day for Democrats, indeed. They just need to remember that they can't always count on having a loudmouthed, bigoted sexual predator for an opponent, and carry that knowledge forward into 2018.

I gotta lie down.

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1For those of you who tend to take things too literally and therefore miss the whole concept of "sarcasm," let me explain: Justin Bieber is barely a musician at all so the idea of him entering the world of prog rock is absurd, to say the least, and Sarah Palin is a gibbering idiot who, quite frankly, can't be trusted with even a butter knife. Moving on ...

2The last one was Richard Shelby in 1992, who later defected to the GOP. The last time Alabama elected a Democrat who stayed a Democrat was in 1978.

3Let's face it. Barring anything unusual, this is likely to happen.

4Less likely, but still possible. If history is any indicator, it will probably happen: Bill Clinton lost the House in 1994, George W. Bush lost it in 2002, Barack Obama lost it in 2010. Not a definitive trend by any means, but definitely suggestive of the notion that Congress flips to the party that is out of power in the first midterm after a new President is installed.

5Not bloody likely, considering that this tactic worked so well last year after Justice Antonin Scalia died and he held up a Supreme Court pick for almost a year, but whatever.

6Breitbart has the same level of standards concerning their content that R Kelly has for his respect for women. Just sayin'.

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