The victory of Doug Jones in Alabama is without a doubt historic: not only is it the first time in a quarter of a century that Alabama has sent a Democrat to Washington, it gives Democrats a slim but very real chance of taking control of the Senate in 2018 meaning, among other things, a say in appointments to the federal judiciary. But as the excitement around this special election fades, it’s hard not to be left with one burning question: Why Was it So Close? This isn’t meant in a self-glorifying pundit sort of way, the question instead comes following a series of close elections featuring very objectionable Republican candidates, most obviously:
- Roy Moore, a credibly accused child molester, lost his race by fewer than two percentage points
- Donald Trump is now President despite an endless stream of controversies surfacing throughout the 2016 election
Both of these candidates should have lost the support of their base due to any number of factors
It’s easy to find many factors playing into something as complex as an election, especially when the Wikipedia page for the 2016 election begins to read like a spy novel, but the reason Donald Trump and Roy Moore were able to even be considered up to the end was because their base never abandoned them. Considering how a large part of the Republican electorate is commonly referred to as the Religious Right, both of these candidates should have lost the support of their base due to any number of factors, be it sexual assault, multiple divorces, audio from a bus, or pronouncing II Corinthians “Two Corinthians”. Instead their religious base held steady, refused to even consider credible accusations, and rallied behind them, in large part because of one issue: abortion.
Over 600 000 abortions are performed in the United States every year
Over 600 000 abortions are performed in the United States every year, 12 every 1000 women aged 15 to 44, all protected under a series of decisions by the federal judiciary stemming from the Roe v. Wade. Just like the Civil Rights movement, as pro-life activists have been unable to advance their legislative agenda, they have understood that control of the judiciary is the key to advancing their fight, a judiciary that is nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate.
When you believe 600 000 babies are being killed every year, grabbing a woman by the pussy suddenly becomes a secondary concern
Contrary to much of the rhetoric on the left, opposition to abortion rights doesn’t stem from a desire to oppose women’s rights, but from deeply held religious and moral beliefs. When you believe that the government is allowing 600 000 babies to be killed every year, other considerations take a back seat. When you believe 600 000 babies are being killed every year, grabbing a woman by the pussy suddenly becomes a secondary concern if the other candidate will keep funding Planned Parenthood. When you believe 600 000 babies are being killed every year, you’re willing to let go of some moral principles to save those lives.
This isn’t a universal rule: Alabama has proved that many Republicans are willing to let one Senate seat go when faced with the devil as their candidate, with some even holding their nose and voting for openly pro-choice Doug Jones, but the closeness of the election shows that even a perfect storm cannot keep many from pursuing their perception of the greater good no matter the moral cost.
It’s time to admit that bigotry, at least in the general election, isn’t the reason
Many factors come into play in any election, and it’s easy to point out Russian interference, or voter ID laws, or an endless pursuit of certain emails by Congress as the cause of a loss to a sketch parody of a Republican, but none of these factors could even begin to come into play if a large block of voters of the right did not continue to back their candidate, and it’s time to admit that bigotry, at least in the general election, isn’t the reason.