Playing down to your opponent’s level does nothing to prove your veracity.
There’s an old saying that parents often cite when their children, in fits of rage, lean towards erratic action. It goes, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” Nowadays, it unfortunately seems large portions of the population are determined to live in darkness.
In case you have not heard, Alabama has a contentious Senate election coming up on December 12th. It pits Democrat Doug Jones against Bannonite Republican, Roy Moore. The entire race has caught a ton of interest because of how slim the GOP’s majority is in the Senate. If the Democrats manage to pull off a victory in this race, the Senate will be at a 51-49 tally with Republicans maintaining an ever-so-slight majority. Every bill would become that much more difficult to pass because only two Republicans voting against a given bill would likely spell its doom, given how united the Democrats (and the two Independents who caucus with the Democrats) have been against President Trump’s agenda.
Republican Roy Moore surprised many when he toppled Luther Strange, the man appointed to now Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Senate seat, in the Republican primary. Moore has been a controversial figure in Alabama for quite some time. He was ousted from the bench twice for refusing to follow federal law. He likened homosexuality to bestiality, and has supported a de facto religious test barring Muslims from holding public office. Obviously, opinions differ on whether those views are warranted in the United States Senate — my view is that he was wholly unqualified from the get-go. But many Alabamians felt differently, and thus nominated him to be their Republican candidate.
Last week, allegations were made that Roy Moore — throughout his lifetime — took a particularly strange liking to teenage girls, one of which was below the age of consent. Many jumped on the collective condemnation of Moore, some of which had been supporters until that point — and quite a few yet believe Moore when he says he did not commit what he is accused of. The original Washington Post article accusing Moore of sexual harassment of a minor, and for having relationships with other girls ranging from 16 to 18, is pretty well-cited. Since then, however, more and more allegations have come out, including that he was banned from an Alabama mall for his indiscretions.
“To pretend otherwise is to fall into the Nietzschian trap by which anything is justified because everything is justifiable.”
Supporters of Moore have declared this tidal wave of accusations to be a concerted effort by [insert political bogeyman here] to discredit him. The allegations prove to be very serious, and there is quite a bit of supporting testimony. Still, Moore’s supporters insist that nothing has been proven in a court of law (of which they are surely correct), but as David French noted, Moore is not facing criminal trial. Therefore, “due process” is not required for the electorate to deem him unworthy of office. He is essentially interviewing for a job, and just because he has not been convicted, does not mean his conduct cannot be taken into account when casting a ballot of support or opposition — as my colleague Cody Rizzuto noted in his column earlier this week.
But let’s put aside whether he his ultimately guilty of his alleged crime and distasteful conduct, or innocent of all that he is accused. A commonly cited “defense” (quotations, because it offers no actual defense of Moore) of Roy Moore is “What about Bill Clinton!” In this retort, Moore’s defenders are hoping to (rightly) call out Democrats for their hypocrisy in ignoring Juanita Broaddrick’s claim that Bill Clinton raped her during his campaign for Governor of Arkansas, while digging Roy Moore’s political grave. However, in calling out the Democrat’s hypocritical indifference towards Clinton until recently, they are exposing themselves as hypocrites as well. Believing Broaddrick (as I do), but denouncing Moore’s accusers right off the bat is blatant hypocrisy cloaked in political opportunism — which is exactly what Democrats have done in their omission of Broaddrick while dog-piling on Moore. But in this hypocrisy, Republicans are devolving into that which they hate so much — Democrats — but with different priorities.
The way in which you reach your goals matters. Procedure and integrity matter. To pretend otherwise is to fall into the Nietzschian trap by which anything is justified because everything is justifiable. Republicans are supposed to be the party of limited government, American exceptionalism, and fiscal responsibility driven by the values of individual liberty and personal responsibility. Yet they have increasingly entertained the same destructive authoritarian tactics the Democrats championed since the days of Wilson and Roosevelt.
Supporting Roy Moore because you believe that he did not commit what he is accused of is a defensible position — although an incorrect one in my opinion. Supporting Roy Moore even if the allegations are true — like Bibb County GOP Chair Jerry Pow — is not defensible, and citing the Bible to justify it is even more reprehensible. If he is a debaucher, just because he’s “our” debaucher does not make him any better than theirs. In Moore, Republicans have chosen to fight fire with fire. Unfortunately, all that will do is burn the house down.
Follow this author on Twitter: @bradjCincy