By Chris Jennewein
The video feeds from the Doug Jones and Roy Moore campaign headquarters late Tuesday night after the senatorial election was called said it all.
In Montgomery, Moore and his wife were at the podium with a group of old white men, refusing to concede and advising voters to trust in God’s will and an unlikely recount.
In Birmingham, Jones was surrounded by a cheering cross section of America, black and white, young and old, male and female, joyous at the campaign’s come-from-behind success and what it means for the future of Alabama.
“We have been at crossroads in the past. And unfortunately we have usually taken the wrong fork. Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, you took the right road,” he said.
Jones’ startling victory in the senatorial election, and his speech pledging to “find common ground” with “courtesy and decency,” underscored the power of the real American majority — diverse, urban, educated and moderate.
In Jefferson County, home to metropolitan Birmingham, Jones’ margin was 68% to 30%; in Madison County, with high-tech Huntsville, it was 57% to 40%; in Tuscaloosa County, home to the University of Alabama, it was 57% to 41%; in Lee County, the location of Auburn University, it was 56% to 41%; in Montgomery County, the capital, it was 72% to 27%; and in growing Mobile County on the Gulf of Mexico, it was 64% to 42%.
The whopping margins in Alabama’s big cities and college towns more than compensated for Moore’s staunch following in the state’s rural areas. Those results suggest three things about Alabama — and by extension all of America.
First, Alabamians had no use for the “alt-right” fantasies of Steve Bannon, a modern-day Rasputin with his unkempt hair, unshaven beard and angry nationalist rhetoric. Let’s hope Bannon has peaked.
Second, residents of the “Heart of Dixie” didn’t buy President Trump’s pleas to vote for a man they knew had a long history in their state of ignoring the rule of law. Trump may have won Alabama in 2016, but his influence with the state’s decent citizens is waning with every angry, impulsive tweet.
Third, Alabama women, especially African-American women, felt that character mattered more than tribal politics, that a state’s leaders should first of all be decent people. They believed Ivanka Trump’s characterization of a “special place in hell.”
If deep-red Alabama can elect a Democrat, the chances are high that an increasingly diverse, urban, educated and moderate America will ensure a very different political makeup in Washington after next year’s Congressional elections.
At his rallies, Moore liked to play the 1974 rock classic “Sweet Home Alabama.” They song is known as a spirited defense of Alabama. But the lyrics also express a heartfelt apology for the state’s racist past under Gov. George Wallace:
In Birmingham they love the Gov’nor, boo-hoo-hoo
Now we all did what we could do…
This time, Alabamans did indeed do what they could do.
Chris Jennewein is editor and publisher of Times of San Diego.
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