Let’s be clear: Nobody likes being told what to do. I hate it when my mortgage company sends me an email letting me know my payment is due on the first of each month. It’s set to autopay, but I ALWAYS consider disabling that option and paying it on, like, the 14th JUST because they’re yapping about me paying a bill that I ALREADY planned to pay. Put a pin in this—we’ll come back to it.
Currently, Roy Moore of the state of Alabama is running for a seat in the U.S. Senate. He is also a man accused of sexual misconduct who had a thing for young girls when he was in his 30s. Chances are that he still—allegedly—does now, but with his much higher profile, he’s had to put a clamp on those (alleged) perversions.
Under normal circumstances, it’s a pretty easy case to get a guy out of there. In a vacuum, explaining to anybody that hey, this guy who is running for office tends to go after teenage girls and here is the evidence or, at the very least, the very damning indications should be enough to make most folks think twice about electing that person into office. Again, it should be. But we live in 2017; Donald Trump is our president and the White House has effectively endorsed a man with a super-questionable past for elected office. I can’t even call it white-people shit.
Here’s the problem that’s happening on the ground in Alabama (and back to that pin): Southerners HATE being told what to do by elitist Northerners, and the media is constantly falling into the Northern-elite bucket. I recently spent Thanksgiving in Huntsville, Ala., the city that’s home to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and Redstone Arsenal military installation. It’s a city full of engineers and individuals involved in the technology industry. Stereotypically, it’s the more educated part of the state.
Yet and still, I saw signs for Roy Moore all over the place and heard his ads on radio stations constantly. And I’ll be willing to bet that while many folks won’t be voting for him for obvious reasons, a significant number will JUST because they do not like being told that they’re wrong to support their candidate AND because it’s the media telling them so.
Which is why I think that on Dec. 12, Alabama will elect Roy Moore to the U.S. Senate DESPITE the mounting allegations of his penchant for young girls. And I don’t even think only Republicans will vote for him. I think there will be some Democrats, caught up in preserving their RIGHT to vote for who they want, that will also cast their vote for him.
It’s that whole “states’ rights” bullshit that so many in the South like to hold on to as the justification for attempting to secede from the Union and causing the Civil War. It wasn’t about slavery; heavens no. It was about the preservation of the state’s right to govern itself. You see it in the same selfish grip on racist symbols of the South.
For many of us Southerners, both white and black, we’ve passed by so many of those statues and symbols and never paid them any mind. But as soon as people did start paying attention and musing, “Hey, these symbols reflect a dark past and we shouldn’t have the government endorsing and sponsoring these things,” all hell broke loose and people on both sides of the political aisle started giving a fuck about symbols nobody but a few cared about for years.
Nobody goes daily to pay homage to statues of Confederate generals, but once they started coming down, you’d think every (mostly white) Southerner woke up and drove to a statue of Robert E. Lee or Jefferson Davis and specifically tipped his hat to it.
But that’s Southern pride. And Roy Moore and his impending election to the U.S. Senate will be another in a line of Southerners cutting off their own noses to spite their faces. So what, folks who drive Priuses (Northerners) are calling his campaign what it is: an (alleged) sexual deviant who got caught with his proverbial pants down after lauding the ideals of morality and the conservative Christian way over the state of Alabama, a state with enough issues as is.
My colleague Jason Johnson posited that Alabama will elect Moore because they want to keep Republicans in power. And while there is some facet of that at play, I think the larger issue is one that speaks more to the culture war that exists in the heads of many down South: that Northerners think they’re better than us and think they know our politics better than we do. Fuck ’em.
The South has long been judged by the rest of the country over a great many things, and a lot of it is rightly terrible. The South has prided itself on its problematic history and stood tall against anybody trying to tell it that its history is fucked up. White Southerners are the worst about pride and heritage.
Many would rather see the worst kind of white man rise to office than concede to anybody else that perhaps they’ve shit the bed one too many times. That’s what’s at play here. The Northern media is shitting all over Roy Moore (rightly), and many down South don’t like it one bit. The Washington establishment (as so many of his ads refer to it) is trying to force its ideologies on Alabama. And they won’t be going for that. Not in Alabama the beautiful.
I hope that I’m wrong. I hope that on Dec. 13, anybody other than Roy Moore is the new senator from Alabama. But I will not be surprised one bit if he’s the choice and if it’s not even that close. But I read the news and I see how many people think it’s idiotic that he’s even still in the race and, well, I’m sure that most in the state feel like it’s their monkey and their circus, and they’ll decide what to do with it.
That’s how a state like Alabama elects a man like Roy Moore to national public office: Outsiders and Northerners tell them not to do it.