As a proud Alabaman, I’m walking today with my shoulders slumped. Roy Moore is the Republican nominee to be the next U.S. senator from my state, and he is likely to be elected in December. Moore is bad for Alabama and worse for the GOP.
To liberals, having Moore in the Senate will be the gift that keeps on giving. He will be the mainstream media’s favorite Republican senator. They will count on Moore to embody every negative stereotype that a conservative from Alabama and an elected Republican can have. And based on what we know about Moore, he is unlikely to disappoint. Liberals couldn’t be happier. Finally, there is a truly anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-Muslim, anti-everything elected Republican for all the world to see.
Beyond believing that he is divinely guided, Moore doesn’t really have a governing point of view. At least not one that is applicable to this century. To suggest that Moore represents something Trumpian only confirms the worst things said about the president. The idea that Moore sees the world the way some cantankerous Republicans such as Ted Cruz, R-Texas, do is an insult to Cruz.
And to those who say that Moore’s election is somehow good for President Donald Trump, well, I wonder exactly what they think Trump might gain from the presence of an ill-informed, failed demagogue in the GOP Senate caucus. Alabama specifically and Republicans everywhere will suffer as a result of Moore’s presence in Washington.
And while we are at it, Moore’s victory makes it more likely that marginal characters will run in GOP primaries nationwide next year, in some cases challenging incumbents who would otherwise have easy reelections. And along with Republicans being generally discouraged, the prospect of primaries may fuel unexpected retirements from the House and Senate that will make safe seats suddenly vulnerable and put the GOP majorities at greater risk.
This phenomenon - combined with a diminished legislative agenda in Congress, an unpopular and volatile president, generic ballot polls showing a wide gap favoring Democrats and the fact that the party controlling the White House is supposed to take a beating in the midterms - does not bode well for Republicans in the 2018 elections. To say the least, momentum for the GOP is not building. This is not what a winning election cycle looks like. And let’s not forget that in politics, bad gets worse.
That said, Trump’s support for appointed Sen. Luther Strange (whom I contributed to) was right in every way. Trump needs more poised, experienced allies in Congress. He should do all he can to populate the Republican caucus with serious leaders who have a good sense of reality and what is achievable.
Political predictions are foolish. It is a mistake to take today’s headlines and extrapolate to the next election. But Republicans are doing nothing to discourage Democrats about their prospects for 2018 by electing the likes of Moore. The idea that Moore’s victory was some kind of Bannonite strategy to strengthen Trump by diluting rational Republicans in the Senate with incapable crackpots is demented.
The bottom line for Republicans is, in Congress, within the White House and among the electorate, things are perilously close to being out of control. Our leaders, while discouraged, certainly don’t need to capitulate. But real Republicans need to start winning.
Ed Rogers is a Washington Post columnist.