The Corner

Politics & Policy

Alabama Conservatives Made Their Stand

Let’s plainly state the reason why Roy Moore lost tonight. Alabama conservatives took a stand. By the tens of thousands they either stayed home, voted for other candidates, or — in some instances — voted for Doug Jones. To say that conservatives beat Roy Moore is not to take one thing away from Doug Jones. He ran a smart race, he mobilized Democrats, and his voters came to the polls in large numbers — large enough to win. But this is Alabama. He could have run the perfect race, and he still would have lost — if conservatives supported their party’s nominee.

Tonight, Alabama conservatives told Steve Bannon and, yes, Donald Trump that integrity matters. They told their party that some victories aren’t worth the cost. They declared that partisanship isn’t worth grotesque moral compromise. The deep South said no to Roy Moore’s bigotry. It said no to his ignorance and malice. 

To give you a sense of the magnitude of the conservative rebellion tonight, consider some numbers. Donald Trump won Alabama by 28 points. Jeff Sessions had such a hammerlock on this seat that he ran unopposed in 2014 — collecting more than 97 percent of the vote. The closest Senate election in a generation was a 19 point GOP victory in 2002. In other words, what happened tonight wasn’t the result of changed hearts and minds in a tiny few swing votes. It was a mass rebellion. 

Where do we go from here? The answers are obvious. Nominate conservatives with integrity. Retake the seat. Reject the vicious, malicious politics of men like Steve Bannon. Center the political fight around ideas and values that men and women are proud to vote for. In the meantime, Alabama conservatives have sent their message. May the GOP hear it loud and clear.

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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