In a surprising outcome, Doug Jones has won the Alabama special election, being the first Democrat from this state elected to the U.S. Senate in 25 years. Jones defeated Republican Roy Moore, who made headlines after the Washington Post reported on the stories of four women who accused Moore of sexual abuse and child molestation, with one of the accusers being 14 at the time while Moore was in his 30’s.
Additional allegations followed, casting a dark shadow over the entire election. Moore has denied the allegations, stating that the “fake news” and “establishment” were out to get him.
Politically, Jones’ win majorly affected the Democratic seats in the Senate, shaving Republicans’ unstable Senate majority to a single seat. However, in the deep-red state of Alabama, the win is a shocking one for Americans, and understandably so.
Jones’ victory is largely in part to the significant turn out of African-American voters. However, many Republicans were turned off by Moore and his extreme views, which didn’t connect well with many Alabamians.
Moore has also proven to be controversial in the past, having referred to Native Americans and Asians as “reds and yellows,” called gay people “perverts” and homosexuality “an inherent evil,” falsely claimed that Shariah law exists in Illinois and Indiana, and said that America was great when we had slavery because “our families were strong.”
However, exit polls found that Moore had 91 percent of the Republican vote and that 44 percent didn’t believe the allegations against him at all.
First we must think about how we got here. How did this deep-red state elect a Democrat? And more importantly, what would Moore’s success mean?
In the past few months, Harvey Weinstein and several other powerful men have been exposed for their disgusting criminal acts. The hashtag #MeToo took off. Men’s responses ranging from “I had no idea this was so common. Thank you for being brave” to “Stop the sexual witch hunt against men. These women are liars.”
After President Donald Trump’s “Access Hollywood” tape leaked, I along with hundreds of thousands of people thought he was done with. I mean, he admitted to sexually harassing women! On video! But he wasn’t done with. Instead, he is the most powerful man in the country.
President Trump embraced Moore and actively backed him in the days leading up to the election. Major Republican figures such as Paul Ryan supported Moore as well, and the song of party unity no matter how disgusting the allegations rang all too familiar. Trump served as proof that no action is too immoral and that no depravity is so unforgivable that people will open their eyes and stop denying these consistent patterns of behavior.
Telling his supporters at a rally “We cannot afford …to lose a seat in the very, very close United States senate. We can’t afford it, folks. We can’t,” Trump said. “We can’t afford to have a liberal Democrat who is completely controlled by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. We can’t do it.”
Well, we did do it. Failing to hold these men accountable sends a terrible message to accused harassers. Trump’s continuous attack of the credibility of Moore’s accusers is sickening. Moore’s success would be a spit-in-the-face to women who had come forward against him. A jeering laugh and a “Ha ha, you lose” to the women who had spoken up. This is a human and moral success for women who have been victims of sexual harassment and assault everywhere.
For a short moment, the image of a powerful man cushioned by money and connections looking down at a women with smug smile and a condescending sneer simply fades to white. A white flag from the Republican voters who did the right thing by choosing morals over politics. White for a new hope.
This is a call to action. Let us make this the new norm. Let us show some spine. Let us never let an accused man get away with it or let them think they have a chance. Let us never put our hands up and surrender. Let us show our strength in numbers. Let us use Alabama as an example. Let us use these headlines to teach our children. Let us use our strength to fight for and support our brothers and sisters.
Today, America proved that the power of the people is much stronger than the people in power. However, this is a small victory in a world that sees far too many “get away.” Jones used a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King in his victory speech that I find fitting for this moment.
“The moral arc of the universe is long but it bends towards justice.”
Let us hope that this always reigns true.