Dear Alabama GOP:
Hello there! I see you are about to elect Roy Moore to the U.S. Senate.
Now, I could rail at you about why this is a spectacularly bad idea for anyone who wants America to continue functioning as a constitutional Republic, where everyone has freedom of religion, rather than just those who hold the “right” beliefs.
How Moore, as a theocrat, threatens such fundamentals; how his conduct as a justice in your fair state proves how corrosive a force he would be when it comes to equal rights. How he was twice removed from the bench for ignoring the law — but all that would be like shouting into quicksand.
Instead, I’ll try to appeal to your reason and godly beliefs, in light of news Moore has been accused of molesting teenage girls.
Your governor, Kay Ivey, has stated she believes at least some of the allegations against Moore.
To refresh you, these are that he stalked teenage girls at the Gadsden mall, hitting them up for dates until he became such a nuisance, he was barred from the shopping center. This was when he was in his 30s. And was an assistant district attorney.
Even more troubling allegations come from a fellow Republican, who said when she was 14, Moore offered to watch her while her mother attended a custody hearing; asked for her phone number; took her to his home and kissed her. During a second meeting, he allegedly got undressed, took off most of her clothing and began touching her underwear while trying to guide her hand over his, according to the Washington Post, which broke the story.
And then three more women came forward to report having been pestered by your candidate when they, too, were teenagers. Don’t forget yet another accuser, who alleges Moore sexually assaulted her when she was a teen and told her she would not be believed.
Ivey is on record saying she believes at least some of the accusers. I’m repeating that in case the point escaped you.
But she’s going to vote for Moore anyway, stating: “I believe in the Republican Party, what we stand for, and most important, we need to have a Republican in the United States Senate to vote on things like the Supreme Court justices.”
These kinds of statements should prompt vast introspection, both in your party, your state, and beyond. Have we, as a nation, fallen so far into tribalism that we will defend the person in “our” camp, no matter the allegations, just to score a partisan win?
It is true that about 20 years ago, partisans rallied around a president who was receiving oral sex from an intern while in office — and some of them continue to do so. Also true: Bill Clinton was impeached (the word means accused, not “removed”), and made to answer for having lied about the affair. And his partner was an adult who consented and perhaps even initiated it.
But it’s still true the power differential between a president and an intern is vast, and what Clinton did was wrong.
Did you see what I did there, Alabama GOP? I found fault with a leader. The world did not stop spinning.
Here’s another one: Sen. Al Franken.
Proving (in case there was any doubt) that creepy behavior knows no partisan bound, pictures surfaced of this Democrat pantomiming groping the breasts of a sleeping woman who’d worked with the then-comedian on a USO tour in 2006. The woman also said that as “practice” for a skit, Franken forcibly kissed her, ramming his tongue down her throat.
It’s been reasoned Franken wasn’t in the Senate at the time. It is also true he apologized and called for his own ethics investigation, rather than ginning up a bevy of excuses.
That does not erase what he did. And, Thanksgiving week, another woman came forward to allege sexual misconduct by Franken, this time, in 2010. When he was in the Senate.
I’m not going to defend Al Franken. I’m not going to defend Charlie Rose, who was taken off-air when eight women came forward with allegations. Or that New York Times reporter who was suspended when women made allegations.
I’m not going to run around yelling “the media” are out to get these men; or insist the accusers are just partisan plants; or, indeed, how surely that nice Mr. Franken asked that lady’s mama for permission first.
People in Alabama have trotted out these very conspiracy-laden excuses for Moore. Some even inventively suggested that because he was a Democrat at the time, the accusations just can’t put a blush on his name now.
Congressional-level Republicans weren’t giving Moore a pass. They said Moore has no place in the Senate, even hinted he might not be seated if he were elected, or might even be expelled.
Now, we’ve heard such principled talk before, prior to the election of Donald Trump, after it emerged he sees no reason to keep his tiny hands off women’s genitals. In the end, the GOP’s disgust proved mere lip service, and that will probably be the case if Moore is elected.
So, Alabama, don’t repeat the national- level mistake of Nov. 8, 2016. Don’t elect Roy Moore.
Of course, you likely will, though. Consider:
Bibb County GOP vice-chair Steve Morgan actually said these words to the Washington Post: “I never liked Roy Moore. But guess what? I’m voting for Roy Moore, because I hate the stupidity that has invaded the Republican Party.”
Words fail — other than suggesting he buy a mirror and self-help book so he can maybe overcome self-loathing. Other actual words spoken by actual people:
“I think they’d rather put Satan up there and then get him removed in the next election than lose the chance to correct what they think has been an injustice for eight years.” — Jonathan Gray, Republican strategist. (He’s referring to the past eight years during which the same seat has been held by a Republican. Let that sink in.)
“Nothing immoral or illegal here. … Maybe just a little bit unusual.” — Jim Zeigler, Alabama state auditor.
But wait! There’s more from Zeigler: “Take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.”
I’ll leave it to you folks to sort out that morass of illogic — he’s yours, not mine.
So, Alabama GOP, I’ve got some questions about the values you claim to hold, and for some reason, believe Moore holds:
Is sexual predation — criminal or otherwise — a Christian value? (Yes, it occurs in the Bible; that wasn’t the question.) Is deflection (“it’s a media conspiracy!”) a Christian value? Is hypocrisy (“I believe the women, but I’m voting for him anyway”)? How about effectively pledging allegiance to the devil, rather than risk losing a Senate seat? What about bearing false witness?
The latter question might best be directed to Kayla Moore, Roy’s wife. In November, she circulated a letter signed by about 50 pastors who’d pledged support for her husband. The problem, though, was they had signed the letter before the allegations surfaced, and per published reports, some of the signatories pushed back.
Of course, none of the things above are values, Christian or otherwise. And yet, U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama said: “ … Roy Moore is going to vote right.”
There’s voting the “right” way, and then there’s doing right, Mo. Only one of these is always going to be in keeping with Christian values; the other is expedience that sometimes might fit such values.
Now, Alabama GOP, turn back to the Bible read a bit of Matthew: “By their fruits ye shall know them.”
In backing Moore, you are not acting to protect your state’s rights; you are not acting to cement a conservative majority on the Supreme Court; you are not sticking it to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for having the audacity to suggest Moore would make a poor senator. You’re not even acting to elect a man qualified to make laws, given his poor track record of interpreting and applying them.
You. Are. Backing. A. Man. Accused. Of. Preying. On. Girls.
Gain a Senate seat, lose your soul. Apparently, you think that’s a fair trade.
Katharhynn Heidelberg is an award-winning journalist in Montrose, Colo.