Our Alabama Lessons

On Tuesday, December 12, 2017, the state of Alabama held a special election for the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Democrat Doug Jones defeated Republican Roy Moore by 1.5 points in a state that has not elected a Democrat senator since 1992.

The uniqueness of the situation teaches everybody important lessons, summarized by the following facts.

Lesson #1 (for the electorate): winning under 50 percent is weak.

None of the candidates won a majority vote. Democrat Jones had 49.9 percent of support; Republican Moore had 48.3 percent, while write-in candidates had the rest of 1.8 percent.

Such a result would automatically trigger a second round of elections in many other countries and parts of the United States (e.g., Louisiana).

This means that Democrats should not be deliriously happy, nor should Republicans be totally frustrated. There are slim chances that a similar situation may ever occur in Alabama, a solid Republican state.

As for Jones, this could be considered a Pyrrhic victory, since he will be obligated to vote, at least on some issues, in line with the beliefs of his conservative constituents.

Lesson #2 (for the political parties): winning against both your enemies and friends is hard.

The Republican candidate Roy Moore had to fight not only against the Democrats and mainstream media, but also part of his own Republican Party.

Republican senators Richard Shelby (Alabama) and Mitch McConnell (Kentucky), the majority leader of the Senate, decided not to support Moore, due to unproven sexual allegations (promoted aggressively by media) and some party political vision differences. This produced confusion amongst the conservative electorate, part of which decided not to vote for its own candidate or not to vote at all.

Both McConnell and Shelby are Washington establishment Republicans, first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1985 and 1986, respectively, and considered “swamp creatures” by many.

Jones will serve in the U.S. Senate for the remaining time of the mandate, which is until 2020. Then, the Republicans can hope they will recapture the seat of Alabama, a conservative state where, in 2016, President Trump won comfortably with over 62 percent.

Lesson #3 (for the mainstream media and Hollywood elite): winning dirty is short-lived.

The Alabama senate election has created a dangerous precedent. A candidate can be defeated by unproven allegations provided they are constantly promoted by a biased media. In other words, the will of the voters, to be represented by someone who shares their values, was tainted.

Both media and Hollywood elite may rejoice their temporary victory for now. However, in the near future, this low standard of evidence (or lack thereof) will have a boomerang effect for similar situations against Democrats, notorious promoters of “free love,” abortions, and undiscovered sexual improprieties.

Lesson #4 (for the President): winning big is to strengthen, not to weaken, your majority.

In 2016, Donald Trump won the electoral votes, 306 to 232, but lost the popular votes, 61.2 million to 62.5 million. In Congress, Republicans have 241 out of 435 House seats, and 52 out of 100 Senate seats.

In spite of a relative fragile majority in the Congress, the president chose to select some congressmen as part of his administration, triggering special elections to fill the vacancies.

Some seats were recaptured in the House by Republican candidates in Kansas (for Mike Pompeo, CIA Director), Montana (for Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior), Georgia (for Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services), and South Carolina (for Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget).

However, the Senate seat for Alabama (Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General) was lost, and now Republicans have narrowed their Senate fragile majority from 52 to only 51 of the 100 Senate seats.

This last lesson is particularly painful and harder to forget, in light of the fact that many expected Jeff Sessions to take a more aggressive stance against the corrupt political elite of Washington, DC, including Hillary Clinton and her acolytes. He has yet to deliver.

 

NOTE – A version of the article was published previously in MEDIUM.

 

Tiberiu Dianu has published several books and a host of articles in law, politics, and post-communist societies. He currently lives and works in Washington, DC, and can be followed on Medium. https://medium.com/@tdianu

 

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