Why would the fine folks in Alabama elect a pedophile and bigot?

Why would the fine folks in Alabama elect a pedophile and bigot?
Remembering Alabama's rural past, a cotton farm. Pixabay Images

There is a special election in Alabama tomorrow to fill the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions when he became the Attorney General. It pits a man who has a taste for underage girls, argues in favor of rapists, has written the sole dissenting opinion in rape cases favoring a rapist.

He believes a woman’s sexual history is fair game. For obvious reasons, he doesn’t believe in statutory rape and has argued a child in a rape case was not forced into sex.

He is sacrilegious, stating last week Government is God. That violates the separation of Church and State not to mention is idolatry in the Judeo-Christian religions. If one wishes to offend The Deity, just compare God to the government. He also states the USA was greatest when one person could own another person.

If that is not enough, the GOP candidate lost his seat on the bench for incompetence.

Roy Moore is a reprehensible character. He’s the kind of man one would not want living next door. The kind of man parents would not leave their underage daughter in his care. The kind of man that is an embarrassment to the legal profession, the State of Alabama, and humanity in general.

He is running against a man who prosecuted the Ku Klux Klan for killing a young girl. A man with a distinguished career as a prosecutor and a lawyer. A man who is a pillar of his community.

chartThe choice should be easy, but it isn’t easy. A look at the composite polls published by Real Clear Politics on the eve of the election, show Republican Roy Moore narrowly leading his challenger, Doug Jones. Moore’s lead is a scant 2.5% which is within the error margin of most polls. This race is a statistical toss-up.

Why on earth would anyone vote for Roy Moore?

People asked the same question in 2016: why would deeply religious people who are dependent on Washington financial assistance vote for Donald Trump? They are voting for Roy Moore for the same reasons they voted for Donald Trump.

A year ago, I was interviewed by Stephanie Lepp for her show Inquiring Minds, as a joint production with Reckonings, a show that probes why people change their political minds. Mother Jones published a follow-up article which you can read by clicking here.

A third of the way through the article is the link to the Inquiring Minds podcast. I was one of three guests. Berkley Sociologist Arlie Hochschild traveled from her left-wing bubble and traveled to Lousiana to try and understand why people from that state would be part of a political paradox.

chart2As this chart from the Tax Foundation shows, people in the many southern states that supported Trump take more government support than people in the states that traditionally vote Democratic in the Northeast and West Coast. The Southern States have poorer schools and an overall poorer population. There are more people in southern states that require food assistance from the Federal Government and Government assistance than in the blue states in the Northeast and West Coast of the United States.

Despite this reliance on Washington, DC for basic services and money to help them function in day-to-day life, they consistently vote for a party who loathes them. Why this paradox?

The simple answer those of us who are on the left like to give is the South has not gotten past its racist past and the GOP panders to the wide-spread racial hate.

There is that element at work. Ms. Hochschild met many who despise the N-word and don’t use it. They block people on Facebook and Twitter who do use that word. They also find Donald Trump’s behavior toward women awful and don’t condone that kind of behavior.

They still vote for Donald Trump, and according to polls are going to vote for Roy Moore. Why is that?

My fellow guest on the show, Alex Mamach offers a clear insight into why. Mr. Mamach, a former Trump supporter who in the end voted for Hillary Clinton states a complaint I heard from many poor white people in my Republican days. The feeling is that poor, white, working people don’t count to the Democratic Party.

There is a widespread belief that the Democrats view them as ignorant, racist, and ridicule them. They see the Northeastern Democrats as elitists who look down their noses at those who are white and poor.

They don’t have any particular love for big business and conservatism. They see the GOP Establishment looking down at them with the same scorn as the Northeastern and West Coast liberal establishment.

Many are poor and want a piece of the American Pie. They feel they are not progressing because they are white. Their view is that just being poor is not enough for Democrats. People must be poor and be an ethnic minority. They must compete for scholarships and jobs and with affirmative action programs, the table is tilted away from them.

They voted for Donald Trump and will vote for Roy Moore because of their utter disdain for an establishment that will not listen to them, and appears to loathe them.  Trump won their vote because Donald Trump repulses the GOP establishment they despise.  In a twist of fate, Roy Moore is not the favored Trump candidate. Donald Trump is now the establishment, and Moore is an anathema to the establishment and is, therefore, an attractive candidate to this constituency.

They are supporting these two men because they have both told the electorate they are listening to their concerns. They want to compete for their place at in the American policy debate and feel the Democrats and establishment Republicans will not listen to them.

Secretary Clinton’s unfortunate remark when she called them a basket of deplorables galvanized them against the Democratic Party. The GOP elites pandering to big business interests galvanized them to the Apostle of Big Business, Donald Trump because he told them he would listen to them.

These are Breitbart's people. They use incendiary rhetoric to keep this constituency engaged and to feel isolated. It is classic populist propaganda that has serious political consequences.

For decades, the two major parties have pandered to their elites. To the Democratic Party’s credit, the Party has empowered powerless minorities. The party is the protector of the environment and the voice for those with no voice. The poor white working class doesn’t feel their voice counts with the Democratic Party. Breitbart has told them they can take over the GOP.

Are they taking over the GOP? No, they aren’t. Breitbart and the GOP exploit them but they are not running the show. One simple change in the Democratic Party, one simple change in the approach of the Democratic grassroots could pull the rug out from under the nationalism being practiced by today’s GOP. That one simple change is to acknowledge poor is poor and we will lift everyone up, and not just one group or another.

Will we make that change? Time will tell.

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