While we have plenty of essays on last night’s election here already, allow me to make a few additional points.
First is the obvious, which is that the Democrats required the ultimate of inside straights to win this election. A despised president combined with an actual pedophile theocrat as the Republican candidate was absolutely necessary. At the same time, Doug Jones was a very good candidate. Despite the occasional ridiculous leftist hot take that we should never vote for such a sellout like Jones, the man ran as a real Democrat. His open support of abortion rights was shocking in Alabama, where what Democrats who have run have run scared of the party platform for decades. That’s not to say that Doug Jones is long for the seat or that his likely voting record on choice isn’t going to hurt his reelection chances in 2020. It probably will. But at least he ran on his actual beliefs. I contrast this to Alison Grimes’ ridiculous response in the 2014 Kentucky Senate election when she refused to say whether she had voted for Barack Obama. This certainly didn’t cost her the election but equivocating on your own beliefs is never going to help you win. Doug Jones refused to do so and he won anyway.
Second, the Jones victory is a vindication of the 50-state strategy. One of the biggest problems with the Obama-led Democratic Party was its indifference to building the party at the state level. That led to way too many uncontested races, including races in southern suburbs that could have been won in 2016. I understand the argument against the strategy–putting a lot of money into unwinnable races has its downside. But then you never quite know when a race is unwinnable, such as this one. If we want a competitive Democratic Party in Alabama and Oklahoma and Idaho, we have to build one from the bottom up. Running real candidates is a good way to do that. There’s a whole bunch more special elections coming up for state legislatures. Let’s win some of these!
Third, all the credit goes to black voters, especially black women. Last night, Charles Barkley noted that Democrats need to give black voters and poor voters a real reason for them to vote. The Democratic Party has frankly struggled to do that lately, a consequence in no small part of the rightward turn in American politics that motivated the War on Drugs, Clinton signing welfare “reform,” etc. Democrats need to embrace policies that specifically help people of color. Therefore, let me cosign Simon’s call for restoring the suffrage for felons in every state. This is the correct position both morally and politically. There is simply no reason to tap dance around racists. There is a great reason to support identity politics. The ridiculous calls against identity politics by a few people on the left such as Connor Kilpatrick are both morally and politically wrong.
Fourth, a friend of mine reminded me of the ludicrous essays after the election about how blue states should think about secession. This was a bad take a year ago and it’s a bad take now. You stay and fight because you can win.
Fifth, I saw a number of takes on both Twitter and in comments here from Bernie haters that were so happy Bernie had nothing to do with this. If your take about defeating Roy Moore is that Bernie Sanders sucks, you are as horrible as the worst Bernie Bro. You are part of the problem with the nation and with the Democratic Party. Stop being part of the problem.
Sixth, let’s also stop pretending that white people aren’t generally the major reason for nearly everything horrible that happens in the United States. Let me embed this tweet from civil rights historian Charles McKinney:
Oh – and ease up on Alabama. Let’s be clear, almost all of us live in states where Moore would have gotten a solid majority of the white vote.
— Charles W. McKinney (@kmt188) December 13, 2017
Right. If you want to make the nation better, you and me need to fight against the racism of whites. Nothing is more important than that.
Seventh, I would like to congratulate Ted Cruz on retaining his title as the nation’s most odious senator. Roy Moore was a real threat to him. Don Blakenship is up next! Will West Virginia elect an actual mass murderer to the Senate?
The title of this post comes from Robbie Fulks’ “Cigarette State”
Also, since Minnesota governor Mark Dayton is going to name Tina Smith to replace Al Franken and she is going to compete for the seat in 2018, making her not a lame duck, I can also throw some Silver Jews into the mix.