The left leaning media is not only in a full armored assault on Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore as a person – and with some justification, to be sure — but they are AGAIN demonizing anyone who would vote for him. In fits of regional prejudice, the eastern seaboard elitist left characterizes all Roy Moore voters as immoral, ignorant or both. Though they have refrained from the appellation “deplorables,” the implications are obvious.
Personally, I am not a fan of Moore’s brand of southern Christian conservatism. I hold more libertarian and secular conservative views. However, I think a case can be made for a moral basis in voting for the controversial candidate. I will play the devil’s advocate and try to explain to the bubble bound liberal establishment why their arrogant singular view of morality may not be the only moral option.
First, there are the accusations. They are numerous, credible and even compelling. But, they all related to events more than four decades in the past. With the Washington Post and now scores of additional media intensely searching for accusers, the fact that they have found none within the last forty years might suggest a reformed man. Should the voters judge Moore on the alleged misdeeds of his youthful years or on his public service and dedication to high Christian values he has displayed since – at least as his supporters see them? While Moore has been controversial, he has not been the subject of scandal for more than four decades in the public eye. And voters believed in him sufficiently to give him the Republican nomination.
To the extent Moore’s actions in the past were criminal – and it seems they might have been if those accusations had been adjudicated at the time – that issue can no longer be addressed in a court of law. The statute of limitations is part of our legal system in order to avoid the injustice of delayed prosecution. Both our rule of law and our culture has held that long ago misdeeds are beyond consideration with the exception of such crimes as murder. There can be no opportunity for the accusers to now bring charges against Moore, and Moore will not have the protections of the law to defend himself. The truth of the charges is left only to the capricious and too often unjust court of public opinion. Should Moore be considered innocent until PROVEN guilty, as our system requires?
The second issue is the Bill Clinton defense. Should his public life and his personal life be conflated? Liberal Democrats made strong arguments in the past against conflation when the fortieth president was discovered to be a serial sexual predator using, nay, abusing the power of his position as governor and president to seduce women — even in the workplace. Clinton had many credible accusers and paid off at least one of them. This separation of public good performed by people with personal flaws is being used today to create a defensive distinction between Moore and Franken/Conyers. Outspoken and occasionally rational Congresswoman Maxine Waters has given her full-throated defense of Conyers, which could be seen as a race-based view that puts skin color above the rule of law as well as the left’s mandatory believability of women.
The Clinton defense suggests that voters should put aside any personal issues – especially from so long ago – and vote the all-important public policies. Many Alabamians truly believe that Republican policies are best for the nation and are willing to hold their nose, refrain from judgment and vote for the person who will offer up the best policies if not the best personality or character. Putting Moore in the Senate ensures one more vote in favor of limited government, lower taxes, less regulation, conservative court appointments, reformed healthcare, a stronger foreign policy and a potentially critical vote for a conservative Supreme Court justice – especially with rumors of the imminent retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy. For many, those issues are far more important than decades old personal behavior. For them, a vote for Moore IS putting their country first.
The third consideration relates to those Republican policies in practical political terms. In numbers, the GOP controls the Senate, but in reality that control is limited by their slim majority, a lockstep recalcitrant Democrat minority and the presence of Republican defectors on major issues. The loss of the Alabama seat further endangers the Republican agenda across the board. To produce the kinds of reforms the Republicans propose and most Alabamians support, they need more Republican senators, not fewer. It is this pragmatic reality that has President Trump avoiding an unqualified endorsement but still saying that the nation does not need another liberal in the Senate.
The fourth consideration is deciding what is the proper moral vote. Democrats and those in their allied media see only one issue – Moore is a pedophile and should be knocked off the public platform or worse. In this, the left hypocritically abandons its long proffered Clinton defense. Not only is private morality now their defining issue, they are so locked into their political/cultural bubble that they do not even conceive of a legitimate alternative viewpoint. They wonder how religious people can vote for Moore, but their rhetorical question is more intended to promote anti-Moore sentiment than to elicit a real answer.
One of the major moral issues of our time is abortion. The pro-life folks in Alabama have no choice but to vote for Moore on the highest moral grounds. Should they reject Moore because of 40-year-old accusations, or is stopping the deaths of millions of the unborn a greater moral calling? Just because the liberal left endorses abortion, does not mean those opposed do not have a deep sense of moral commitment to oppose it at every turn. Contrary to the opinions of CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times and the Washington Post it is very possible to vote for Moore as a matter of deep moral conscience.
The fifth issue is the will of the voters. This comes to play should Moore win the Alabama Special Election. Calls to refuse to seat or to later remove Moore from the Senate are premature and inappropriate. Removing even reprobates runs contrary to our American system and traditions.
Consider the 1856 case of pro-slavery Democrat Representative Preston Brooks, who entered the floor of the Senate intent on beating to death anti-slavery Republican Senator Charles Sumner — and nearly did – a House motion to expel Brooks failed and he easily won reelection. Sumner, due to traumatic head injuries, did not return to the Senate for three years.
We must never forget that those folks in Congress do not work for the House or Senate – or the government, in general. They work for the people of the state or district who elected them. It is not, and should not be, up to the D.C. political establishment to decide who represents the people. That is up to the voters to decide. No elected senator has been ejected from the chamber since the Civil War – and that one was based on the issue of treason during wartime.
This issue has come up from time to time in later years. When Ted Kennedy caused the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, which would have been a prosecutable case of vehicular homicide, there was talk but no real effort to boot him from the Senate or even oppose his reelection. His long scandal-pocked career did not prevent his Democrat Senate colleague shower him with effusive praise for his public policies. The same was true of Gerry Studds, who engaged in sex with an underage male page. There are many other examples of members of Congress being reprimanded or censured, but never evicted.
Back in the 1960s, Congress did vote to deny New York Congressman Clayton Powell his seat because of corruption. He filed a suit against Congress, but even before the suit had run its course in the courts he was reelected by the people of his district. He took his seat because of the manifest will of the voters who re-elected him despite his misconduct and the collective opinion of his fellow legislators.
Based on the same principle, there is no justification to eject Franken or Conyers from their respective chambers. If they chose to resign or withdraw from running again, so be it. Whether they can continue their service for the long run should be up to their constituent voters when they are up for reelection. If elected, it is very unlikely that Moore would actually be expelled regardless of the ill-advised threats of some senators.
As a footnote, there is one legitimate reason for not seating a member-elect of Congress. That is if the election, itself, was provably corrupt or unconstitutional. Several times in the late 1800s, Republicans in Congress attempted to block southern Democrat legislators from taking their seat because their elections were obviously and provably illegal and unconstitutional according to the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, subsequent laws and several court decisions. But even in those cases, the illegally elected legislators were seated – even as late as the 1960s before the Voting Rights Act and proper enforcement finally resulted in blacks getting the right and ability to vote in the solid Democrat southland.
And finally … the idea that Congress is, or should be, filled only with persons of the highest moral character (whatever that is) is a nice thought. However, it is not only impractical, it is virtually impossible. Many of our greatest and most admired public servants have had serious human shortcomings. One of the reasons there seems to be so much hypocrisy in politics is that we measure them all against that arbitrary “highest moral character” standard which no one can meet. The misbehavior that periodically surfaces in the form of scandal is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Very few in Congress are free from dark secrets and ignominious past activities that would generate scandal and derision if they were exposed to the bright light of public scrutiny – and every now and then, a few are so exposed.
What makes the Moore case different from the other political accusées is not only the age of the women at the time – not an insignificant point — but the fact that he is up for election in the very near future in a contentious and critical year. That intensifies the efforts to defeat him for those alleged past moral indiscretions or to elect him for the positive policies he would bring to office. Though the debate will continue to rage nationally, the final decision will be made by the always good, decent and moral voters of Alabama in just a matter of days.
Larry Horist is a conservative activist with an extensive background in public policy and political issues. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman, and he has served as a consultant to the White House under Presidents Nixon and Reagan. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress and lectured at Harvard University, Northwestern University, Florida Atlantic University, Knox College and Hope College. An award winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He can be reached at email@example.com.