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Alabama results a positive vote for US polity

Alabama results at the centre of media attention

Gulf News

Results of the Senate race in Alabama that resulted in spurning of the controversial Republican candidate, Roy Moore, was seen as a positive vote for the future of the polity in the US.

Washington Post, the newspaper which broke the story about Moore’s alleged relationships with teenage women, led the charge on the Republican candidate’s spectacular loss. “Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alabama, seemingly confirming every negative stereotype about the Deep South state, the shame would have been national. Instead, Alabama voters chose Democrat Doug Jones to represent them until 2021. If Americans should feel grateful to Alabama voters, so should the Republican Party, much of which debased itself by following President Trump into the gutter of support for Moore. Its majority in the Senate will be slightly narrower, but the dignity of the Senate GOP caucus will be at least partially salvaged. Alabama voters spared the Senate Ethics Committee the dilemma of how to handle a senator who was clearly unfit but who nevertheless won a popular election. Instead of inviting controversy and chaos, they elected (Doug) Jones, a man who deserves the honour,” the paper editorialised.

“In America, all politics is famously local,” the Guardian noted, adding, “Alabama’s past hangs heavily over everything that happens there. Its deep past — slavery, race discrimination, militant resistance to the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 60s, the neglect of education for the poor — shapes politics in ways that were reflected in these elections. The near past matters too — and it is unusually turbulent. In less than two years, the Republican heads of all three parts of Alabama’s government have had to resign: the governor, who pleaded guilty to two misdemeanour campaign violations that arose during the investigation of an alleged affair with an aide; the state speaker over charges he used his office to advance his business interests; and the chief justice, Moore, for refusing to carry out the law on same-sex marriage.” The paper predicated that the Democratic win in Alabama will boost their chances in the upcoming midterms. “Democratic hopes of winning back the Senate and perhaps the House in the 2018 midterm elections have received a huge boost, not least because the Republicans seem so incapable of responding effectively to the internal warfare that is destroying their party.”

The New York Times carried a comment piece by Tom Friedman that eviscerated Moore (and Trump’s) brand of politics and its meaning for America. “The country needs a plan for investing in more resilient cities, in lifelong learning systems for every worker and in a safety net of mobile/universal health care. And what do we have instead? A highly tribal Republican tax bill that targets none of those issues. But maybe, just maybe, the narrow majority in Alabama has sent both Trump and the country a message. We are fed up with your cynicism, we are fed up with your effort to break us into tribes, we want a president who is a uniter not a divider, because we have big hard work to do as a country right now — and it can only be done together.”

The Los Angeles Times had a big word of praise for the GOP voters who voted against Moore. “Credit is due to those who voted, and especially to the Republicans and conservatives who broke the tribal bonds and either voted for the Democrat, or wrote in someone else’s name in their ballots rather than support Moore and the president who backed him. Ignorance, self-dealing, distrust of democratic institutions, know-nothingism and racism remain dangerously potent forces in American politics. More reasoned voices need to make themselves heard over the next two election cycles to wrest control of Congress from the current batch of cynical Trump enablers. Today’s Republican Party has proved itself to be too craven, irresponsible and self-serving to be trusted with the reins of power,” the paper concluded.