By Colleen O'Connor
Now is the moment. Now is the test.
Now is the turning point for the South and possibly the country.
And it is the women of Alabama, with their secret ballot, who will choose that future.
Yes, it is up to the women. They who, since the nation’s founding, have always been designated the country’s “moral guardians.”
Alabama presents not just a bellwether election—as in Virginia, where Trump was on the ballot—and did poorly.
It also offers a U.S. Senate race, in a high-stakes clash of cultures, the Constitution and credibility.
And a political battle of wills and of sexes.
Whom do you believe? Roy Moore (the Republican party nomine)—currently, accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. Or his female complainant (and numerous on-the-record witnesses and collaborating evidence) detailed in The Washington Post.
Alabama, a deep red state, with little chance of electing a Democrat, is now in play. The latest polls show a close race.
But, polls can be wrong. And Alabama has an unflattering past of corruption ignored and misdeeds buried.
However, something compelling and heretofore unspoken is afoot. Call it the “ghost wave.”
It began building after of the 2016 Presidential election, with Clinton’s 3 million popular vote win; then came the women’s march on Washington that eclipsed the Trump inaugural crowd; in the background is the increase in female heads of households; the gains in voting rights, education and wealth among women; and the lopsided responsibility of women for the healthcare of aged and ill relatives amid a threatened loss of coverage. This wave is swelling in intensity.
Re-visit the Billie Jean King vs. Bobby Riggs tennis match and the Anita Hill vs. Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination hearings; consider Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, and all the other sexual assault scandals; finally, add the buried history of unwanted and unpleasant harassment experienced in most women’s lives. Now you have a sense of the power of the #MeToo wave.
Then, do the math, study the history, and read the original U.S. Constitution to understand Alabama’s current date with destiny.
Originally, Alabama was a slave state where such “property” was not only protected in the Constitution, but was enshrined with the provision that slaves or “chattel” would be counted as “three-fifths” a human being for purposes of taxation and representation.
Alabama remains a proud adherent to the “states-rights” compromises in that U.S. Constitution—which eventually, via multiple causes, led to the Civil War.
That war is still being fought—at least, emotionally—in Alabama today. And not just with Confederate statues and anti-government rage.
That war also still weighs heavily on the Southern conscience. Indeed, even on the country’s conscience until addressed in the 1960s Civil Rights era—which ushered in the Voting Rights Act, widespread school desegregation and the women’s movement demanding equal rights in education and opportunity.
That is the history. Remember it and now do the math.
According to the U.S. Census, women in Alabama are the majority at 51.6 percent.
And most are educated. High school education among adults 25 and older is 84.3 percent, while 22 percent have earned a Bachelor’s degree or higher.
Surprise? Alabama is not the “dumb hick” state commonly denigrated by the North.
Alabama, according to the latest high school graduation rates, produced by the U.S. Department of Education, scores at—or near—the national average. Almost tied with California and ahead of states such as New York, Wyoming, Washington, Michigan, Florida, Colorado and Oregon.
Thus, the hidden power of the “ghost wave” that sinks ships unaware.
Alabama’s women voters could propel that wave, to upend the U.S. Senate race, and perhaps, the U.S. Senate itself.
Mitt Romney and other enlightened Republican leaders have already lighted the way.
Time now for the women of Alabama to exercise their secret ballot rights, and conjure up their better angels.
Colleen O’Connor is a native San Diegan and a retired college professor.
>> Subscribe to Times of San Diego’s free daily email newsletter! Click hereFollow Us: