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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

As Alabama Goes, So Goes...Nothing Much

Hi, friends.  Well, it happened -- the Democrat Doug Jones defeated Judge Roy Moore in Alabama.  The Republican Senate majority is now a puny 51-49.  That's a bummer, and it will make it harder to achieve many conservative goals, but life will go on, and, as I explain in my latest article, the results of the 2018 mid-term elections are anything but a foregone conclusion.  To make a long story short, Alabama, and America, will rise again!  Read all about it here:

When Moore is Less: What We Can Learn from Roy Moore's Defeat

Doug Jones' narrow win over Judge Roy Moore in deep-red Alabama will come as a disappointment to many conservatives. Republicans must also fear that Jones' win signals impending doom for GOP candidates across the country in 2018. Such is unlikely to be the case.

First, the circumstances in the Alabama race were, to put it mildly, unusual. The accusations of sexual impropriety leveled against Moore were devastating, especially in the context of his ambiguous denials. We may never know how much truth there is in the various allegations, but there is no doubt that they accomplished their objective, from the perspective of the Washington Post: they defeated Roy Moore. Granted, Moore was already a weak candidate with a checkered past, and, absent the sexual misconduct story line, he would only have won narrowly, but he would have won, all the same. Needless to say, though, Democrats cannot count on every Republican candidate in 2018 being credibly accused of pedophilia, so these peculiar dynamics will never be reproduced.

Second, Moore lost in large measure because he was critically handicapped by a lack of conservative and Republican support. Numerous Republicans called on Moore to drop out of the race and/or suggested that he should be expelled from the Senate if he won the election. For several critical weeks the National Senate Republican Committee severed its ties with the Moore campaign. Likewise, although President Trump eventually declared his support for Moore, he did so with a focus on Doug Jones' liberalism, rather than on Moore himself, and he refused to visit Alabama. Most importantly, Jones received a torrent of donations from across the country, while Moore's fundraising languished. Jones was able to outspend Moore on the airwaves approximately 6 to 1. Arguably, the only thing that could have saved Moore was a heavy investment in negative ads against Doug Jones, in order to level the playing field, but given the lack of establishment support for Moore this was impossible. Democrats also benefited from the fact that, because the special election in Alabama was, at the time, the only election going, they could concentrate their resources and make a maximum effort.

Because of all these singular considerations, it is fairly obvious that the political dynamics in 2018 will be extremely different from those that resulted in Doug Jones' victory. Nonetheless, Republicans and conservatives should not be complacent. 

For one thing, Democrats have demonstrated, in Virginia and in Alabama, an ability to mobilize their core constituencies. It would appear that the media's efforts to keep liberals in a holding pattern of continuous frothing rage are working. Somewhat surprisingly, even black voters responded enthusiastically to Doug Jones' candidacy – or, at any rate, to the opportunity to defeat Roy Moore. This means that it is likely that Democratic turnout in 2018 will be robust.

In addition, conservatives should not console themselves with the idea that they “dodged a bullet” by avoiding Roy Moore's presence in the Senate. True, Moore would have been a potential albatross around the neck of Republicans, but the liberal attack lines against GOP candidates will be unchanged. The left will always label Republicans “anti-women,” as well as racist and homophobic, and they will always find evidence, even if it is contrived or ridiculous, to support their attacks. Republicans should not delude themselves with the idea that, by offering Roy Moore as a human sacrifice to political correctness, they can insulate themselves from charges of bigotry, chauvinism, and lechery. Far from it. 

It would appear that, as the Russia collusion narrative gradually unravels, liberals believe that sexual misconduct allegations may yet become the silver bullet that slays Donald Trump. Given the success that the left achieved along these lines in Alabama, we can expect such accusations to multiply even further in number. Of course, this is a double-edged sword for Democrats, since many of their own are susceptible to the same kind of charges.

In the end, while Republicans are right to worry about 2018, especially since the laws of political gravity suggest that a party currently so strong in almost every facet of American political life is due for a comeuppance, they should realize that nothing is inevitable, and indeed 11 months are a very long time in politics. 

Perhaps what should comfort Republicans the most is the fact that their present standing in state legislatures, governorships, and in the House of Representatives is so historically strong that Democrats would need to make truly massive gains in order to fundamentally alter the state of the nation's politics. There are innumerable ways in which they can be stymied, and surely, if Republicans can merely fight their way to a tie in the popular vote on election night, they will, by default, be the winners. 

In the Senate, moreover, the lineup of contests in 2018 is so favorable to Republicans that they could easily gain seats in that chamber even if they suffer losses in every other political domain. There is ample reason to hope, therefore, that the slender 51-49 majority that Republicans now enjoy in the Senate will soon be growing.

Republicans and conservatives, it may seem that we have arrived at a truly desperate hour, when even the good people of Alabama cannot be counted on to vote for Republicans. The truth, though, is that the country remains fundamentally divided between left and right, blue and red, and Democrats will have no easy time of it taking America by storm. If we keep our heads, we can ensure that they never do.

Dr. Nicholas L. Waddy is an Associate Professor of History at SUNY Alfred and blogs at:


  1. Dr. Waddy: Agree with you on all points. I think Moore's defeat is a bad blow but the real America is still very much in this existential fight; too, I would predict Jones will be ousted in 2018. He'll alienate Alabamians with dispatch as he kisses Charles Schumer's ring.

  2. I sorely hope you're right, but we won't get a shot at Jones again until 2020. He gets to serve out the rest of Sessions' term. That makes the blow extra harsh.