Sour Home Alabama: Roy Moore Remains the Odds-on Favorite to Be the State’s Next Senator

It doesn’t matter how many women come forward.

It doesn’t matter how many Republicans say he should pull out of the race.

It doesn’t matter how horrified the country as a whole is over the allegations.

Roy Moore will not drop out of the special US Senate election scheduled to take place on December 12 in Alabama. He knows that there are enough Alabama voters indoctrinated to hate all things Democratic to ensure his victory. In fact, it can be argued that his Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, ought to consider dropping out of the race, since his odds of victory, current polls notwithstanding, remain slim in the real world.

Much like climate-change denial, once folks can be convinced that reality is “fake news,” nonsense is what you wind up with:

[Moore’s] supporters focused more on the timing of the accusations and the messenger than on the content.

Many took aim at the [Washington] Post, which reported the story on Thursday and has been a frequent target of President Donald Trump’s Twitter screeds against the media. (Moore called the story “fake news” and promised “revelations about the motivation and the content of this article.”)

“The Washington Post has about as little credibility as Hillary [Clinton],” said Bob Sanders, a former lobbyist and longtime Moore supporter who also attended the speech.

“I think that it’s politically motivated,” said Sallie Bryant, the Republican Party chair in Jefferson County, Alabama’s most populous county. “I am party chairman, and so therefore I am for the party’s nominees and for our candidates, but I really feel like the timing of this is very suspicious.”

Moore also cast doubt on the women themselves, accusing them of harboring political motivations…

[T]he accusations have galvanized a furious defense of Moore, who drew national attention over the summer as an outsider challenging appointed Sen. Luther Strange in the Republican primary. The Senate campaign had since faded from prominence — until now.

“He didn’t have any reason to get people excited. He didn’t have any reason to get them fired up,” said Republican strategist Jonathan Gray, who predicted a Moore win in December. “Now they’re coming out to defend their man.”

David Roberts’s analysis of the American right’s self-segregation from reality, though written before the Moore news broke, nevertheless explains why Moore will likely win in a landslide:

The US is experiencing a deep epistemic breach, a split not just in what we value or want, but in who we trust, how we come to know things, and what we believe we know — what we believe exists, is true, has happened and is happening.

The primary source of this breach, to make a long story short, is the US conservative movement’s rejection of the mainstream institutions devoted to gathering and disseminating knowledge (journalism, science, the academy) — the ones society has appointed as referees in matters of factual dispute.

But the right’s institutions are not of the same kind as the ones they seek to displace. Mainstream scientists and journalists see themselves as beholden to values and standards that transcend party or faction. They try to separate truth from tribal interests and have developed various guild rules and procedures to help do that. They see themselves as neutral arbiters, even if they do not always uphold that ideal in practice.

The pretense for the conservative revolution was that mainstream institutions had failed in their role as neutral arbiters — that they had been taken over by the left, become agents of the left in referee’s clothing, as it were.

From this perspective, any poll that shows Jones ahead might as well be considered unreliable. Ask yourself: at the end of the day, how many voters in a state that sent Jeff Sessions to the US Senate for four terms will take the words of the Washington Post–a newspaper many of these voters have been taught to view as a godless, Commie outfit–and the criticisms of Democrats and “establishment” Republicans over Moore’s denials? How many of these voters will regard the allegations against Moore as just the 2017 equivalent of the Duke lacrosse team controversy? How many of these voters will come with up repulsive ways to rationalize away the allegations, choosing to believe that even if the worst of the claims against Moore are true, then the young women involved must have wanted it?

A Moore win would be the least surprising development in modern American politics. There are millions of Americans, in Alabama and elsewhere, who walked away from facts, truth and reason decades ago. They will never come back. They are wedded to the vision of a permanent 1950s where women, African-Americans, members of the LGBTQ community and anyone who isn’t a straight white Christian male knows their place and knows their role. They regarding voting Democratic as a sin, not what Moore allegedly did to those young women. There is no bottom to the American right, no limits to its loathsomeness, no cap on its cruelty. When it comes to viciousness and venality, it’s fair to say that right-wingers just can’t get enough–and only want Moore.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.