If you have been following the news lately, then you have heard about Roy Moore. He's the Republican candidate for one of Alabama’s senate seats. Moore has said a lot of awful things on the campaign trail - he has referred to Asian and Native Americans as “red and yellows,” claimed that 9/11 was part of God’s wrath, and has asserted that Muslims are unfit for Congressional Office - but the thing that has gotten him into the most trouble is an allegation that he sexually assaulted a 14-year-old back when he was a 32-year-old Assistant District Attorney.
The Washington Post first broke the story, and corroborated the account from multiple sources. Moore has denied the allegations, and has called them “completely false.”
It is too late in the campaign for an alternative Republican candidate to push Moore out the race, and so, Republicans are left in the awkward position of trying to get a man with no apparent decency to willfully concede his position for the betterment of the Party. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has called on Moore to resign, the Republican National Committee (RNC) has stopped fundraising for him, and even terrible people like Sean Hannity are publicly expressing their doubts.
Don’t give McConnell and his peers too much credit though, they're doing this simply out of self-preservation. The Republican Party just lost ground with state legislatures in Virginia and Georgia, and they are worried that a pedophile Senator might hurt their party’s brand going into the 2018 election cycle.
This would normally be the part of the article that I urge you to call your representatives and demand that they renounce Roy Moore’s candidacy, but this is one of those few times where doing nothing is actually better. We want Roy Moore to stay in the race, and tarnish the Republican Party’s image.
The truth is that the Republican establishment has every reason to be worried. Revulsion towards child molestation is one of the last unifying taboos in our society. The legal code, in particular, being remarkably stricter with child-related obscenity than anything having to do with adults. The Republican party does not want to be associated with this, which is why everyone in the party, from Congressional leadership to White House staff, is renouncing Moore’s candidacy, and asking him to step down.
As of right now, though, Moore does not seem interested in resigning. Moore told a crowd recently at Huntsville Christian Academy in Huntsville, Alabama that he had no intention of dropping out of the race. In fact, he claimed he was “investigating” his accusers, and planned on suing The Washington Post. He also deflected the accusations against him by calling on the United States to restore its culture by going “back to God."
Many of Moore’s supporters are still sticking with him, and are either downplaying or disregarding the Washington Post story altogether. This shouldn’t surprise us. We do exist in an era where people can disregard all uncomfortable truths by labeling them “fake news.” Why start believing The Washington Post now?
Commentators are looking at this as a test of the Republican Party’s fractured moral compass, but we should really be seeing this as the final stage of a metamorphosis. For a decade now, the more xenophobic contingent of the Republican Party has been fighting the economic libertarians that make up the party’s elite. With the election of Donald Trump, that elite is quickly losing ground.
Moore isn’t the only religious zealot running on an unabashedly xenophobic platform. For example, the Republican contenders for the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial races both ran using race-baiting tactics. Former Trump Strategist Steve Bannon has been actively campaigning to unseat more moderate Republicans this primary season. Moore being his most outspoken success.
The 2018 election promises a great upheaval in U.S. electoral politics. Democrats will hopefully capitalize on their recent victories and secure one or both chambers in Congress, but for the Republican Party that is left behind, anticipate a more virulent and reactionary party. The implications of that transformation remain to be seen.