Nobody really sees Alabama for what it is. The state plays home to a patchwork quilt of proud, progressive and hardworking people. It’s a gorgeous place with fascinating prospects and limitless potential – but most people on the planet couldn’t tell you one good thing that’s ever come out of Alabama.
They look at places like Birmingham or Montgomery and see the brutal scars of racism and bigotry. They remember lynchings, church bombings, segregation and murder. Even today, they see the Ku Klux Klan, transgender bathroom bills and the final remnants of a dying white aristocracy. There’s so much more to it than that – but even the faintest sparks of progress are constantly being extinguished by Alabama’s ham-fisted and complacent Republican lawmakers.
Well, not anymore.
Last night, the people of Alabama finally got the opportunity to remove their GOP shackles, toss them into the state’s infamously muddy backwaters and send Donald Trump a crystal-clear message: his campaign of hatred and fear has no place in blood-red Alabama.
That’s right: for the first-time in 25 years, the state has voted to send a Democrat to the US Senate. Tuesday’s special election was being held to replace the empty seat of Trump’s exhausted lapdog, Jeff Sessions, and nobody really expected the Democrats to put up a good fight.
But as the race began to unfold in earnest last month, voters from all sides of the political spectrum realised the election wasn’t just about ticking a box. It set the stage for a complete reversal of the fragmented Republican Party’s thin grip on the Senate – and simultaneously served as a state-wide referendum on Donald Trump and his train wreck premiership.
Perhaps that’s why the GOP nonsensically allowed Alabama Supreme Court justice and accused child molester Roy Moore to run for office. You’d be forgiven for spotting the odd parallel between Moore and his larger-than-life hero, Donald Trump. Both men have spent their political careers actively attempting to deny people basic human rights, both were considered underdogs in their respective primaries and both are facing multiple allegations of sex abuse.
Party members probably thought Moore would be able to replicate Trump’s oddball success and ride a wave of partisan spite all the way to Washington – and the scary thing is, they were almost right. Alabama’s voters thought long and hard on Tuesday to decide what was worse: sexually assaulting a 14-year-old-girl, or being a Democrat. Over 48 per cent of people ultimately decided being a Democrat was worse.
Thankfully, and perhaps unexpectedly, rhyme and reason narrowly prevailed.
Instead of a disgraced Trump wannabe, a wafer-thin majority of voters named Democrat Doug Jones their new Senator. And you know what? He’s got a pretty stellar vision of the way life in Alabama could (and should) be.
Jones was the federal prosecutor responsible for securing convictions against members of the KKK for murdering four little girls in the harrowing 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. He’s a middle-of-the-road Democrat who’s anti-corruption, supports same-sex marriage and civil rights, is keen on Obamacare and even acknowledges the existence of climate change.
Translation: he’s a hard-working moderate capable of bridging the gap between Alabama’s diverse and historically fragmented communities. He’s got experience reaching across the table to secure the ears of both Republicans and Democrats alike – in fact, Tuesday night’s election was so close that there was no way Jones could have pulled off a win without snatching up a decent slice of the GOP electorate.
Today, Alabamians have unlocked a brand-new chapter in their state’s incredibly rich story. Instead of falling backwards on their arses with another conservative caricature, voters will be able to move forward and prove to the world that progress and liberal values are truly alive and well in America’s Deep South.
Will Doug Jones have an easy life in Washington? Hell no. The virgin Senator will be stepping into a hostile, Republican-controlled body dominated by petty spats and bureaucratic gridlocks. But his win has fanned the momentum of a rapidly recovering Democratic Party – and more important still, it’s shown the planet exactly what real, hardworking American folks think about the real Donald Trump.
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