The better angels of our nature

The US state of Alabama went to the polls this week in an election that can hardly have been more polarised.

In what is normally rock solid Republican territory, the GOP candidate Roy Moore faced Democrat Doug Jones. Mr Moore, a right winger opposes abortion in all circumstances, thinks homosexuality is a sin and believes Muslims should not be allowed to hold government jobs.

However Moore’s political views were not what made this race competitive.

The surfacing of allegations of sexually inappropriate behaviour was the issue that dogged him during the campaign. It made his principle opponent a contender in a state that the Democrats hadn’t won for decades.

Jones, who has never held office, but is well known in the state for his involvement in a high profile prosecution of Klansmen, was sneeringly described by President Trump as a liberal Democrat in a statement endorsing Moore.

This from a man who with every passing day reminds the Stephen King fans amongst us of the megalomaniac politician, Greg Stillson, from the Dead Zone.

That said these days most Republicans are pretty scary.

You have to go back a long way to find a GOP liberal of the Rockerfeller variety.

The party of Lincoln is now a grotesque beast railing in a reactionary manner against imaginary enemies, both foreign and domestic.

The good news is that Jones has won and the voters of Alabama have a  Senator they can be proud of.

It is often said in jest that America is still fighting the Civil War. At the start of that terrible conflict, Lincoln spoke of his hope that the nation would in future be ‘touched by the better angels of our nature.’

The result in Alabama reminded me of that quote. Maybe the tide is turning and the liberals are on their way back across the pond.

Whatever comes next, we should be cheered by the fact that Mr Jones is going to Washington.

* David is a member of Horsham and Crawley Liberal Democrats

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • So pleased the Democrats won this election in Alabama. Just hope they choose a much more effective Presidential candidate in 2020 than the one they had in 2016.

  • Let’s not get carried away with this win; even with Moore’s bad publicity it was a close run thing…The main change, according to CNN, was a far larger turnout by black women than usual…
    However, only 30% of white voters went for Jones and, despite the accusations of Moore’s sexual predatory history, over two thirds of white women still supported him…

    I think talk of a liberal tide is premature…

  • Sue Sutherland 17th Dec '17 - 12:24pm

    David thank you for the information about Jones’ involvement in prosecuting Klansmen. Like other commentators here I understood his victory was down to a high turnout of the black vote. I had thought that this was because they had got fed up with Trump’s prejudices but obviously there was a more personal reason for their support of Jones. I think there is a lesson for our party in this.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 17th Dec '17 - 1:46pm

    Excellent article from David.

    There were two broad groups misunderstood by those in this country who saw them both as so far to the right of our stance in a supposedly European social democracy.

    Actually, although those two groups were a little to the right, of our parties, they were definitely centre to centre left, centre to centre right.

    The Democrats included all three of the remarkable Kennedys each to the left of the other, from centrist JFK, centre left RFK, to often left wing Teddy.

    The Republicans had the wonderful Wendell Wilkie, as Presidential candidate in the forties, a man more liberal , less social democrat , than Roosevelt, so good politically, he would fit in the Liberal party of any sort. He would be a liberal Democrat today.

    Mayor John Lindsay of New York, a sixties Republican candidate, became an independent, that led to him becoming a Democrat.

    Mayor Bloomberg did exactly the same recent years repeating history.

    The Republicans moved to the right in 1964, under Goldwater. Reagan continued that.

    Both seem , centre right today. Senior George Bush was and is a very moderate figure.

    The Republicans have, with a recent obsession with personal,moral, conscience issues, become so right wing , that , coupled with a dogmatic view of laissez faire economics, have made them a fringe.

    David is correct. Moore is a horror story. All good men and women and true, are Democrats today more than ever.

    Reagan is revered by Log Cabin Republicans, the gay Republican group, for his principled view of the right of gay people to be teachers in public schools, opposed by right wingers of his day.

  • I just considered it an iconic election result as happened in 2016. Trump was the person that shook the tree. Jones is the one doing so in Alabama. If you want to see more of this look at the career of Steve Bullock Governor of Montana.

  • There is nothing second-rate about Black votes and it is nothing new that when white Liberals win in the south (excluding Virginia and maybe Arkansas in Clinton’s time) they do so thanks to Black voters and a minority of the white vote. Even when the Georgian Jimmy Carter, who probably seems more Liberal now than he did then, won the presidency, he failed to get a majority of the white southern vote against a Northern Republican, but carried a series of southern states thanks to a very heavy Black vote for him.

    Alabama is a very, very Conservative state and whatever its Black voters did, has elected Dixie Democrats or Right-wing Republicans for ages. So this is a remarkable result.

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