The GOP’s Morning After

The GOP’s Morning After, by Rod Dreher.

Who’d have ever thought that a Democrat could win a Senate race in Alabama? It wasn’t so much that Doug Jones won as that Roy Moore lost, of course. Moore supporters will blame that scheming Mitch McConnell, or the national media, for the loss, but it pretty much comes down to the fact that Ol’ Roy was a terrible candidate. …

Check out the exit poll results to see why Alabamians voted like they did. Note how little the skeezy stories about Roy Moore and teenage girls mattered to voters, in the end. The main driver of the Jones victory appears to be black voters, who turned out in impressive numbers to vote against a candidate who once publicly waxed nostalgic for the good old days of slavery, and the fact that Jones won decisively among 18-29 year old voters.

The big takeaway here is that Roy Moore’s fate revealed the limits of Trumpism. …

As Ross Douthat writes this morning: …

Roy Moore, in this sense, was Trump’s Trump — the man who took this mode of politics to 11 and beyond. The president has harassment accusations; the judge had mall-trawling accusations. Trump is a race-baiter; Moore was a stock character from a message movie about Southern bigotry. Trump’s populism mixed reasonable grievances in together with some stupid ones; Moore’s populism was the purest ressentiment. And like Trump but much, much more so, the Moore campaign relied on the assumption that Republicans who didn’t care for who he was and what he represented simply had nowhere else to go.

This is the thing that Trumpists don’t want to hear: the politics of substance-free populist outrage has its limits. If it can’t win in Alabama, its day is done. It ends up depressing the normal Republican vote and energizing the Democratic vote. Steve Bannon’s plan to take over the Republican Party is going nowhere now.

But this is the thing that standard Washington GOP types don’t want to hear: this does not mean voters want to go back to the status quo. If they were happy with Republican governance, Trump wouldn’t have won the presidency in the first place.

But now that we’re about a year in to the Trump presidency, it’s clear that he has not delivered on the incredible opportunity history handed him. He has governed mostly as a corporate Republican, and carried on with such loudmouthed recklessness that he’s embarrassed and exhausted a lot conservative voters. Meanwhile, like Roy Moore, he has sent an electric shock through Democrats. …

From one of Dreher’s readers:

I am one of those conservative Christians who has not voted for a Democrat for…let’s just say a long time, longer than some of you have been alive. I live in Alabama and agonized for weeks about this election, having observed Moore’s nuttiness for years. As late as Monday night I had decided not to vote for him. As late as my drive to the polls on Tuesday I had changed my mind and decided I would after all. But when I actually had the ballot in my hand I just couldn’t do it, and wrote in somebody instead.

So I am one of that handful of people who put Jones over the top. I do not feel good about it. I feel terrible in fact. My wife is hardly speaking to me–she detests Moore but voted for him in the interests of the bigger picture. And yet I think a Moore victory might have been a win-the-battle-lose-the-war event.

No wisdom or counsel to offer. All I can say is that this whole situation is terrible. It is, as many have said, a cold civil war, and it isn’t going to get better. If you have any notion that the victors in this election are feeling the least bit conciliatory or magnanimous, you are wrong. I listened to them on tv last night and on Facebook this morning.

hat-tip Stephen Neil