The great state of Alabama is holding a special election on December 12th to decide who will fill the Senate seat vacated by now Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Normally in Alabama, one of the most conservative states in the country, the winner of the Republican primary is considered the de facto winner of the whole election, however, this year things went horribly wrong for the Republican party and possibly for the entire country.
On September 26th, Roy Moore won the Republican runoff election and became the Republican nominee for Senate, defeating the incumbent appointed Senator Luther Strange. Moore has made a career out of stoking culture wars and preying on the fears of Alabamians. Moore has consistently flouted the rule of law by ignoring higher court opinions and violating ethics rules. His disdain for the rule of law has gotten him removed from the bench twice.
Moore is also viciously homophobic. He has said "Homosexual behavior is a crime against nature, an inherent evil, and an act so heinous that it defies one's ability to describe it," in a court opinion while arguing that gay parents were detrimental to the health and well being of a child.
In this case, his court gave an abusive father custody of his teenage daughter because the mother had come out as a lesbian. He has claimed on multiple occasions that homosexuality should be illegal. He even compares homosexuality to bestiality and continues to push for sodomy laws.
Moore was a member of the birther movement. He has called Islam a false religion and compared the Koran to Mein Kampf. Moore has said that Muslims should not be able to hold public office. He refers to Native Americans and Asian Americans as “reds and yellows." This is just to name a few of his most egregious and un-American positions.
Roy Moore also is incredibly unfit to serve as Senator. This is evident by just looking at the “Issues” section on his campaign website which is laughably short and vague. He does not possess the respect for rule of law that is required to be a member of an institution like the Senate.
And now, he is facing damning sexual assault allegations. Moore allegedly took a 14-year-old girl to his home, kissed her, and told her how pretty she was.
He brought her over a second time and undressed her and touched her over her underwear and bra. While this is the worst, there are five women who have come out and claimed he pursued them at a young age while he was in his thirties.
The reality is he is probably going to win.
Doug Jones, Moore’s Democratic opponent, is having a strong showing in the polls and could capitalize on the absurdity of Moore’s campaign. But it's Alabama, and therefore, regardless of the circumstances, any Democrat running is going to face a major uphill battle for statewide races. So what would the results be for the country if, on December 13th, we wake up to Senator-elect Moore?
It would mean that Moore would be making decisions at some of the highest levels of government. He would be in negotiations during debates about healthcare, lifetime judicial appointments, and national security just to name a few.
This is a race in which the Republican party is going to lose either way. They have already thrown away millions of dollars trying to prevent Moore from winning the nomination in the first place.
If Moore wins they will have to spend time defending the pompous bigot in their caucus. Not only will Moore tarnish the Republican brand as a Senator, it doesn’t look like Moore is willing to work with Republicans much either.
It seems unlikely that Moore would do anything to help the establishment (which, it bears repeating, spent millions against him) and potentially damaging his anti-establishment image he has spent decades cultivating.
However if Moore loses and Alabama sends a Democrat to the U.S. Senate, the entire Senate becomes up for grabs. To understand this you have to understand the Republican civil war. One side is the establishment Republican party, on the other side is the anti-establishment, right-wing populist, Bannon wing of the party. Steve Bannon has said on multiple occasions that he will attempt to primary every incumbent Republican in the Senate except Ted Cruz.
This means that Roger Wicker (R-MS), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and John Barrasso (R-WY) are going to have to fight tough and well funded primary opponents. If these incumbents lose to Moore-like candidates (which is exactly what happened in Alabama) backed by Steve Bannon, it could open all of these seats up to moderate Democrats, despite being in some of the most conservative states in the country.
Whether or not Steve Bannon will be able to dismantle the Republican establishment is still unknown and probably won’t be known until after the 2018 mid-terms. December 12th will be an indicator, is Bannon successful at uprooting incumbents and replacing them with candidates like Roy Moore, or is he biting off more than he can chew, thus handing the Senate over to the Democrats? For now, that question is in the hands of Alabama voters. Let’s hope they choose correctly.