Alabama Redeems Itself … Barely

Rabbi Chaim Landau

Amid the amazing display of political rhetoric, the sexual-harassment state of Congress, Trump’s recent tax bill awaiting final passage, and within all the verbal diarrhea, everyone lost the main point of this week’s Alabama senate election.

This was not an election to decide whether Alabama favored a Republican candidate or a Democratic candidate. This was an election that pitted common decency and respect over indecency and outright criminal behavior. The outcome was that decency won out … but only just barely.

In a statewide special election for the senate seat previously occupied by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Democrat Doug Jones emerged victorious, but by only by one-and-a-half percentage points over his Republican opponent, Roy Moore. To say this was an election that grabbed a nation by its coattails would be an understatement. I was reading reports of this event in English, German and Israeli newspapers. This was an election that once again showcased where America was heading, and whether the outcome would have any bearings on the moral state of this country.

Doug Jones ran as a former prosecutor with no known character defects affixed to his name. Roy Moore was running as an outright Christian who preached Jesus Christ and basic fundamental Christian beliefs while, at the same time, he was being accused by many women of acts that ranged from sexual harassment to assault to attempted rape. Suspended from the Alabama Supreme Court for rebellious acts whereby he refused to accept the legal decisions of his judicial colleagues, this individual emerged as a pedophile who seemed to spend more time in search of vulnerable young girls and women than beefing up his knowledge on the laws of his state and country. It seemed that Moore was hiding behind the visage of Christian principles to hide his own inability to personally accept them within his own life.

And so it might be seen in the greater political scenario that, as a result of Jones’s victory, Alabama rejected President Trump, Steve Bannon and the Republican Party. But that might be taking it a bit too far. A careful look at the statistics show that, within the Republican Party, a huge number of women — white, college-educated, and, you would think reasonable-minded — denigrated all of the accusations leveled against Moore, and supported him wholeheartedly.

In a Congress reeling from numerous sexual harassment claims against current and former members, the election of Roy Moore would have symbolized a historic low to which some Republicans would go to secure a Republican lead in the Senate. How could we explain electing a known pedophile to one of the highest and most powerful levels of government? How strong did we really need the stench of sexual infidelity to wreak within this auspicious governmental body? And how many other Senators would be forced to smell the ramifications of this potentially tragic instance of American democracy at work?

We can breathe, at least for now, some sigh of relief that Alabama, in the dying moments of the race, did come to its senses. Which leaves me to ask the following. While the nuclear cloud of sexual impropriety enveloped Roy Moore’s campaign, does anyone have the faintest idea on what the platform of Doug Jones was all about, or did he receive a free run as he ran a campaign that was really defined by the behavior of his opponent? Maybe we may be able to claim decency and morality still exists, but I fear we may be losing those very values as we sacrifice them for political expediency.

Rabbi Chaim Landau is rabbi emeritus at Ner Tamid Congregation.

Never miss a story.
Sign up for our newsletter.
Email Address


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here