Please Contest the Alabama Senate Race

On a day like today, I don’t much want to write about electoral politics or anything else. So this will be brief.

In Alabama, we have on the one side a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, Doug Jones, who is best known for locking up the Klansmen who had escaped accountability for more than a quarter century after having bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.

On the other side, we have a Republican candidate, Roy Moore, who in 2004 opposed Amendment 2 to the state constitution. Amendment 2 would have removed language in Alabama’s constitution that requires separate schools for “white and colored children.” It also would have stricken references to poll taxes, a form of black disenfranchisement used in the state during the Jim Crow era. These remnants of the pre-Civil Rights period have no legal meaning anymore since they’ve been superseded by federal law. But they remain on the books as a kind of lasting stain. Moore didn’t want the language taken out because it “would have allowed federal judges to force the state to fund public school improvements with increased taxes.”

Right now, in Washington, there are Democratic leaders and strategists who are trying to decide how much if anything to invest to help Doug Jones beat Roy Moore. They’re afraid of their own shadows, fearing that their support will convince Alabamans to vote against the candidate who locks up Klansmen instead of the candidate who appears to be a Klansman.

I say that we don’t pre-judge this. Don’t assume that Alabama will make the wrong decision here. Give them the opportunity to hear both sides of the argument and make a choice based on the merits. However it turns out, there are many decent people in Alabama who don’t want an unreformed segregationist as their senator, and they deserve a chance to win. And, given the importance of every single Senate seat, the rest of us deserve a chance to win, too.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.