There’s very little doubt that Roy Moore, the controversial far-right conservative who won the GOP primary runoff race on Tuesday night, is the clear favorite to win in the general election that’s slated for December against Democrat Doug Jones.
Alabama, which President Donald Trump won by almost 30 points last fall, is among the reddest of the red states. Of its nine members of Congress (seven in the House and its two current senators), only one representative is a Democrat. The state has also voted for a Republican candidate for president in every election since 1976, endorsing the GOP candidate by over 60 percent of its vote in five elections since that time.
Yet, some Democrats are cautiously optimistic of their chances against Moore, whose views are so far-right that it may backfire against him. Moore has a bout of controversy that follows him, too: he’s been twice removed from the state Supreme Court, and his coments and views on gays and lesbians in the United States would make even Rick Santorum blush.
Still, the election is an uphill battle for the Democratic Party. That doesn’t mean it’s one that’s not worth fighting for — even if the outcome is a loss.
I’ve personally traveled to Alabama no less than a dozen times. I’ve taken road trips through the state (the long, north-to-south distance) on no less than 10 occasions. I’ve been treated warmly, being given that “Southern Hospitality” you so often hear about.
But I’m also a straight white male, whose appearance on first glance is sometimes that of a “good ol’ boy.” And I’ve noticed that how I’m treated isn’t always the same treatment that others are given while I traversed throughout the state.
I’ve seen black families have to wait longer in restaurant lines. I’ve seen women stuck in gender roles that reflect a 1950s mentality. I’ve seen gay couples receive stares for holding hands on Gulf Coast beaches. I once counted a disproportional amount of highway traffic stops that pulled over more people of color than white drivers.
And I’ve seen poverty — not just for blacks, Latinos, or other people of color, but for white people as well. Alabama is the sixth poorest state in the U.S. Statewide, the poverty rate is close to 20 percent, with several counties in the 25 to 40 percent range.
Democratic policies could vastly improve the lot of many Alabamans’ lives. And on social issues, Alabama is in desperate need of realignment, in both it’s social and legal frameworks.
Support for Democrat Doug Jones needs to be on the minds of Democrats in Alabama, as well as the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and supporters of progressive causes nationally. States like Alabama have been largely forgotten by progressives over the past generation or two, even as the state itself is in need of some new reforms that will empower its people, (small-d) democratically and socially.
Even if Democrats lose this round, an investment in the state now could mean some better outcomes in the years ahead. And who knows? Maybe some added attention from progressives to Alabama will help its citizens realize that Roy Moore is a dangerous choice for the state. But the chance of that happening shrinks to zero if Democrats choose to, once again, ignore a state from the south.
See poverty and its effects in Selma, Alabama, firsthand in the video below:
Featured image via Michael Rivera/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0