Sexual harassment scandals that have forced major figures in entertainment, media and politics from their jobs have strengthened Roy Moore’s position.
If you want to understand why scandal-plagued Republican candidate Roy Moore may win the special US Senate election in Alabama, you have to stop thinking about sex.
Moore is holding a slim but surprising lead in polls going into the vote on December 12, in spite of mounting evidence of disturbing sexual encounters with underage girls, including allegations reported in reputable news sources that he molested some of them. Many of his supporters simply refuse to believe the allegations, and others plan to vote for him in spite of this rather than switching support to Democrat Doug Jones as some prominent Republicans have done.
Why? The answer lies in what propelled Moore into position to contest the race: his status as a culture warrior. Moore is the result of what happens when a cultural divide becomes so wide the two sides no longer listen to each other.
Moore is not among the conservatives who form the backbone of the modern Republican Party. He’s a theocratic Christian populist who believes the Judeo-Christian God is “the sovereign source of our law” and Muslims should be barred from holding public office. And his political record would, under normal circumstances, be one of disgrace: He was twice elected chief justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court, the second time after having been removed from office in 2003 for refusing a federal court order to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Supreme Court building.
After being re-elected to the post, he was suspended in 2016 for ordering state officials not to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples after the US Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to bar gay marriage. He resigned in April to run for the Senate after losing an appeal.
As a result of his battles with federal courts, Moore has become the champion of Americans who feel that the dominant political culture is determined to destroy them. And he has stoked the flames of that passion and risen on its fumes.
The accusations against him have come at a time when trust in the news media is low and the partisan divide in attitudes very deep, creating an atmosphere where supporters can simply dismiss the allegations.
The sexual harassment scandals that have forced major figures in entertainment, media and politics, such as Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer and Representative John Conyers, from their jobs have also paradoxically strengthened Moore’s position. Their behavior toward the women around them has alienated them from their liberal, pro-feminist allies and branded them as hypocrites.
Conservative columnist John Podhoretz, writing in the New York Post, also noted that Democrats’ ongoing support for former President Bill Clinton in the face of numerous allegations of harassment by women have strengthened Moore, by setting the precedent that his politics were more important than the details of the accusations against him.
“Moore is saying exactly the same thing to conservatives: Allow yourselves to believe in the truth of these claims and you are going to surrender this country to godlessness and transgenderism,” Podhoretz wrote.
Indeed, this was one of the key arguments for supporting Moore that were made in a focus group of conservative Alabama voters organized by Republican pollster Frank Luntz for VICE News.
“Policy is everything,” said Ann Eubank, a retired accounting assistant, to applause from the rest of the group.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.