It was no ordinary special election to fill a Senate seat vacancy. This election was a political and religious standoff. This election came at a time of incredible political division–particularly among Christians.
Just when it was beginning to feel as if the nation was hopelessly entangled in our red and blue netting–that there was simply no way to turn a red state in the Bible Belt to blue, it happened.
I was watching this one closely and, frankly, I had no hope that Doug Jones would emerge victorious.
Just the day before the election, I was listening to NPR and heard an Alabama voter being interviewed. What this seemingly sensible man was saying had me hopeless. The man was a self described conservative Christian who said the he voted strictly on biblical principles–his interpretation of biblical principles, anyway. Essentially, he admitted that he believed Roy Moore was a sexual predator with a history of preying upon underage girls. When the host pressed him on how he could square that against his biblical principles, the man replied that it was a very easy choice for him. He looked at the fact that Doug Jones supported a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion and that was all he needed to know. He said, “It’s not a great choice that I am happy about, but it is a very easy choice to make. I either have to vote for someone who may have sexually molested some people or I have to vote for someone who supports the killing of millions and millions of babies. Which would you choose?”
My heart sank when I heard that. There it was again, that–that MONSTER.
That’s where the fire of hope in me seemed to completely die out. How can we ever get past that monster? When millions of the most conservative of Christians in areas like Alabama and many other Red states will vote for a child molester before they will vote for a pro choice candidate, how will we ever turn enough red states blue to keep another Donald Trump from happening to us? Never forget, Trump is only in the White House because of those little overlooked red states like Alabama. If it were up to a popular election, he’d be an odd also ran notation in our history books instead of an indelible stain.So, after hearing that man interviewed, I had just about written the election off as another inevitable failure.
But then, it happened…
Doug Jones pulled off a near miracle. He narrowly defeated Roy Moore!
It was close–really close–but it happened. And that result revealed that smoldering embers of hope do still burn, even in red states.
There is hope that people can still be mobilized to stand up and stop a monster from taking leadership. Helped by his work in convicting the KKK church bombers in the 90’s, Doug Jones had won the respect of black Alabama voters and they came out to the polls in great numbers–black women, in particular, played a big role. Latino and Jewish voters also played a major role. There is hope that the success of these efforts might sow the seeds for future such grassroots democratic efforts from minority groups who, frankly, don’t exercise their voting muscle often enough.
But, make no mistake, to push Doug Jones over the top in this election, it also took a few white, conservative Christians to do the right thing. It wasn’t many but, with the help of all those other voters, a few good men and women decided to put common sense before their party loyalty. They didn’t bow to the pressure put upon them that a good Christian couldn’t vote for a Democrat. They pulled the curtain and summoned the strength to act on their own convictions rather than be bullied by their church. They understood that, just because a candidate supports a pro choice platform doesn’t mean they are pro abortion. Doug Jones doesn’t like abortion–but he understands that the issue goes far beyond the simple surface–like the majority of Americans do.
So those few good conservative Christian men and women who didn’t let themselves be forced into casting their lot with Roy Moore revealed that there is still a burning ember of hope for us yet.
But the monster is still there. At some point, the Democrats are going to have to find a way to slay it. What can they do to convince more Christians that voting for a candidate on a pro choice platform isn’t tantamount to being pro abortion?
If they ever figure out a way to slay that monster, it will be a game changer.
Until then, at least we can warm ourselves over the smoldering ember of hope.