While there are a large number of pundits and 24-hour news folks droning on about the ramifications of the Democratic win in Alabama, (the first in decades you know!), I would suggest it’s not something to get too excited about.
Roy Moore was defeated by the slimmest of margins. About 1.5 percent more people voted for Doug Jones the Democratic and non-pedophile (accused) candidate. That’s not exactly an overwhelming chorus of support. Yes, I know Alabama is a red state; and yes, I know that means a significant shift in the electorate had to come out and hold their noses to vote against their traditional party affiliation. Still, just shy of half of Alabama voters would have been okay with Roy Moore. Let that sink in.
Is Roy Moore’s defeat a good thing? Yes. It certainly is a good thing that an accused abuser of children is not being considered for public office. Having said that, what about due process? The accused getting a fair shake in a court; these are court worthy allegations. The court of public opinion is both fickle and often wrong. However, there is a risk to letting someone so accused stand for a position they don’t have. If the allegations are proven true, the newly elected individual could be an instant liability and some cases protected by the public office they have attained. If the individual is in a role currently however, it becomes more challenging. The notion of due process should be applied, the degree to which it is applied and by who may vary. An employer can investigate an allegation of sexual misconduct and find sufficient validity in the accusation to warrant dismissal. That does not preclude the later vindication of the individual and the follow on lawsuit for wrongful dismissal. However, courts need not be the arbiter, but in most cases, should be.
In the United States, the polarization is so thick it has a smell, and that smell is burning wood. The structures under which US society have operated are being destroyed. In some cases, that’s not a bad thing. No one sensible would shed a tear for the loss of systemic racism or discrimination against women. That said, the fire is also consuming the very tools needed to eradicate those ills of society. The Presidency, it seems, has been co-opted by a rude, racist, misogynist, and accused abuser. President Trump has demonstrated a willingness to flout convention and dignity at every turn. His “party” has demonstrated a willingness to indulge him. The opposition is no less fractured as the Republican party is becoming. In short, politics and government in the US is at a crossroads. Two out of control parties are headed for a collision and it is unclear whether they will avoid a devastating crash or one of the two will be piloted by a sober and centrist head.
One thing is sure, Roy Moore being denied a Senate seat is only a small step in the right direction. It is not a bell-weather, it is not a panacea. It is merely proof that slightly more than half of the voters in Alabama think he was a bad choice.