Now Alabama Needs to Have Its Say

Now Alabama Needs to Have Its Say

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

After one of the ugliest political campaigns in American history the people of Alabama will have the opportunity for the only say that really counts; their votes. The prognosticators have finished their guessing and the partisan campaigners for Roy Moore and Doug Jones have withdrawn. While the citizens of Alabama will now decide, it remains to be seen what effect all the hullabaloo has had on the last minute theatre called politics, and what will be the reviews.

What we do know:

  • The 83-year-old senior senator from Alabama, Republican Richard Shelby–who began his political life as a Democrat—announced that he had voted by absentee ballot but could not vote for Moore.
  • President Trump’s U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley infuriated the President by declaring that the women with allegations against Moore should be heard and not dismissed.
  • Trump, having been embarrassed by backing the loser in the primary, did not set foot in Alabama but went just miles away to Pensacola, Florida to campaign for Moore last weekend. The President assumed that this would give him deniability should Moore lose; or win him praise should he win.
  • Moore disappeared for a week until the eve of the election thus preventing him from needing to reply to press challenges or to be seen ignoring the media.  
  • Kayla Moore, Judge Moore’s wife, responded to the charge that Judge Moore was anti-Semitic with a classic trop replying that one of their attorney’s was a Jew.  
  • If Moore loses, Steve Bannon may suddenly become a questionable asset for Republicans. His deep personal investment could blow his credibility out of the water.  
  • Jones moved forward and cloaked himself in the mantle of Black political leaders to push up the Black turnout.
  • Jones treaded very lightly on the entire litany of social issues to try to keep waffling Republicans from rejecting him.
  • The demographic cleavages in this election could be the most critical data for analysts trying to forecast how the 2018 mid-year election is trending. Depending on the breakdown of the vote, this election could force reworking of all the numbers on sex, education, and income levels.

What is fascinating to watch in this election is whether this polarizing contest will signal the birth of the New South in Alabama. Economic growth, business investment, social and cultural change are being signaled throughout much of the South. In many respects Alabama is there already.  In order to truly move ahead, it needs to throw off the stigma of being a racist, sexist society. Alabama will not become blue, but the growing educated, successful elites sense a new direction.  At the end of the day, if the voters reject Moore that is what they will demonstrate. Alabamians are much than the stereotype of ignorant farmers playing football.   

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