Roy Moore won the runoff for the Republican nomination for Senate in Alabama. He won after being outspent by his primary opponent, Luther Strange, by a margin of 5 to 1. And he’s probably going to win the general election by about 20 points.
(I love the post-runoff speculation by people who haven’t been right about anything in about two years that the eccentric Moore is vulnerable in the general and could lose to the Democrat. May I remind you that about a year ago, Donald Bleeping Trump won the presidency? Insanity is no longer a strike against a candidate.)
But I’m excited about the result for reasons that have nothing to do with the winner.
The way big-time politics plays out is usually this: Party leadership anoints a candidate — the one that’s most like them; the one most likely to play along — and they put that candidate in front of the voters and put a lot of money behind him and assure the voters that this is the right guy. The party’s supporters are then expected to play along and vote for the anointed candidate. The ones who have genuine problems with that candidate are expected to suck it up and toe the line. In a state that leans heavily one way or the other, like Alabama, the party pick is all but guaranteed the win.
The voters of Alabama heard loud and clear who they were supposed to vote for, to the tune of the aforementioned 5 to 1 spending advantage. And the voters of Alabama overwhelmingly replied, “Nope.”
This makes me proud for all kinds of reasons. To wit:
— Alabama voted bigly for Trump, but it’s not in the thrall of Trump: From the get-go, Luther Strange’s campaign message was, “Vote for me, because I love Trump more that any of these other guys!” With that as his theme, he never led in any poll and lost by ten points. Trump even campaigned for Strange, to no effect.
It’s almost like voters are more interested in electing someone who they think will represent their interests than blind loyalty to any person or party. This would definitely be terrifying news for our establishment politicians. Speaking of which…
— It’s yet another big rebuke to Congressional Republican leadership: It’s becoming more and more apparent that Republican leadership has no interest in doing anything for their constituents that might require any kind of backbone or expenditure of political capital. No matter that many of the things they’re not doing are things that they’ve specifically campaigned on for the last few election cycles.
As voters get tired of being lied to and taken for granted, they’re responding by rejecting establishment candidates the way your eye rejects a gnat and opting instead for more, shall we say, boisterous candidates who don’t owe anything to the establishment. Remember all the recent noise about a potential Kid Rock Senate run? Everybody laughed for a minute, and then their laughter trailed off into a wide-eyed, horrific realization that it could actually happen.
In the Trump era, no option is too outrageous. Voters seem ready to keep sending crazy people to Washington until they find one that’s crazy enough to actually do what he said he would do.
— The voters can tell a stinky fish when they smell one: Clearly, I have no evidence to prove this, but it’s widely accepted conventional wisdom around here that Strange was appointed to the Senate in exchange for backing off the investigation of our scumbag former governor, Robert Bentley. Voters didn’t want to reward this shadiness with a full Senate term, and they certainly didn’t want to miss the opportunity to give Bentley the finger one last time. Alabama may be dominated by straight-ticket Republican voters, but those voters don’t feel the need to support the machine for the sake of the machine.
This really was a remarkable vote in Alabama. By filling in one little dot on the ballot, you could vote against Trump, against the GOP establishment, against machine politics, and for all manner of entertaining chaos. It may be my favorite Alabama election since that night I voted for Ruben Studdard 72 times. 205 in the house, y’all!