Guest Post: Y'all are Going to Hell if You Elect Roy Moore: A Report from LA (Lower Alabama)

I asked a local down in the deep deep south to chime in about what we might or might not know regarding the Alabama senate race between a goddamn hero and a goddamn child molester.

This is by Marty Olliff of Dothan, AL.

Recently there's been a good deal of twaddle on Twitter about the moral responsibility of Alabama as a whole for the election of Roy Moore. "All eyes are watching," wrote one. This is problematic, for the Alabama political landscape is much craggier and more crevassed than moralizing from afar implies. Understand why Alabama hasn't risen up en masse and shouted, "NO MOORE" is baffling, but my lukewarm take might help.

First of all, separate Moore voters from the anti-Moore voters (Dems, some GOP, and even some evangelicals). Moore is buoyed by his party identification and some people will not budge. I've heard more than once, "I like Doug Jones, but he's a (sotto voce) Democrat . . ."

For the tweeters who think Alabama is going to hell for the outrage of electing an accused pederast and assaulter, remember that Trump won slightly over 62 percent of the state's 2016 votes, so the GOP candidate should be walking away with this election. But he's not. The Democratic challenger, Doug Jones, has pulled to within a few points, and in one flawed Fox News poll was ahead. That Jones has closed the gap is a moral victory, thin as such gruel might be.

Why is Jones so close? Mainly because the Moore scandals have led many in the GOP to abandon him where they would have lusted for his victory or at least held their noses for the sake of god, guns, tax cuts, and harming black folks. Never doubt the power of sexcrime to have an impact on the American electorate.

Jones faces multiple political problems not of his own making. Unlike Moore, the best-known politician in the state, Jones is relatively obscure. His successful prosecution of Klansmen who evaded justice for 40 years after killing four little girls at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham got more play in the national press than here. Murderer Bobby Frank Cherry's name still comes to mind faster than his prosecutor's does, and the state's always-simmering racial divide means that most white voters aren't jumping on Jones's criminal justice bandwagon. Jones compounded this by not seeking the spotlight for his win. Damn him for being a decent human being and competent, non-grandstanding attorney!

More seriously, the Alabama Democratic Party is in trouble. Will Rogers famously quipped, "I don't belong to an organized political party; I'm a Democrat." Alabama replied, "Hold my beer." The party is split between its black and white wings, led by long-time empire-building co-chairs without coherent reach outside Montgomery. Dozens of elections go unchallenged, which has led local factions to revolt. Little wonder the DNC provides almost no funding to the party to build itself. The rumors of the death of the Alabama Democratic Party might be premature, but they're not THAT premature.

The real obstacle any Democrat now faces in Alabama is the hard-core support for a single-party state that represents the interests of the white middle class and the white aspiring middle class for whom caste-consciousness substituted for class-consciousness. Moore supporters, and most Alabama Republicans, are the progeny of the Dixiecrats who morphed into the Wallaceites of "Segregation Forever" and "stand-in-the-schoolhouse-door" fame who then morphed into the Reagan Democrats and beyond. The transformation was complete when Democrats lost their last statewide office with the resignation of Sue Bell Cobb as Chief Justice.

Believing Moore's hard-core supporters are susceptible to rational argument is a fool's errand. In Alabama, everything is political and politics are personal. Not only do people take political slights personally – much of the recent trouble with the Luv Gov and Mike Hubbard was about factions of the GOP being pissed off at one another – but even more insidiously, supporters line up behind individuals who personify a mix of relatable traits, policy directions, and systems of patronage and favors.

Here's how that works: Moore is mean-spirited and doesn't take shit from the evil, immoral cultural authorities of Hollywood and New York City. He might kick down, but he never kisses up, and he appears to his supporters to be a bully who fights for them. That appeals to many of those self-righteous, put-upon Alabamians who root for Judge Judy to tell some bonehead off or for Dr. Phil to make some wimp cry.

His supporters like that he was persecuted, in their eyes, for the simple act of placing God before man-made law (many of them know their civics better than that but won't admit it), and they are apoplectic about abortion. Moore rails about those things, and gets standing ovations in small-town gatherings. Additionally, if Moore gains a position, he'll vote to reduce taxes and he'll have to hire people. Someone his supporters know might benefit or they themselves might be able to call in a favor as a benefit of their vote. Power by proxy.

Underlying all of this is the emotional tribalism that makes everything in the state a binary contest between Us Good People and You Evil Bastards. Any white person who takes up residence in Real Alabama (anywhere that is not a major college town or a center for space engineering) hears two questions that, in a way, get at the same thing: "Where do you go to church?" and "Auburn or Alabama?" These questions, as well as the entire "Heritage not hate" nonsense, is about identifying yourself as a member of a tribe. Not quite a majority of Alabamians take this kind of hyper-tribalism very seriously, but give any us a couple of beers and things are likely to get out of hand one way or another.

Finally, Alabama is a hotbed of "Bless your heart," the ubiquitous phrase that means both "I feel for you" and "All y'all just fuck off." The second meaning is a hint to understanding why Moore supporters can reconcile their professed Christianity with his personal (accusations only at this time) crimes. They simply don't believe he assaulted anyone, that his accusers are Democratic plants and liars.

As for trolling young girls, well, they read the Bible the same way he did; summed up by the odious Jim Zeigler who cited the age differences of biblical men and women, including the step-dad and mom of Jesus, in justification. Even if Moore supporters do think he's an embarrassment, they simply do not care. He not only represents them; he IS them.

Until you grok this perversion of "the personal is political," trying to figure out how supporters of Moore and even Trump think will make you grab the tall boy of Zoloft. We get a replay in 2018, so that'll be fun.

(Caveat: Before you get your knickers in a twist that I didn't cover your pet peeve or #NotAllMooreSupporters, let me say, "Bless your heart.")