In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's character. In Alabama, accused child molester Roy Moore ran for the Senate with the support of sexual harasser Donald Trump.
The Alabama election, in particular, should suggest to Republicans that there’s still a role for shame and, more important, that there might yet be a reservoir of virtue left in their party. Yes, turnout in the African American community helped defeat Moore. But the other side of the turnout equation was vitally important, as thousands of conservative voters echoed the moral revulsion of famous Alabamians such as Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R) and basketball great Charles Barkley by staying home or submitting a write-in ballot. Had all those write-in votes been cast for Moore instead, he’d be on his way to Washington.
Also noteworthy was the failure of former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon to turn the Moore campaign into some kind of experiment in the politics of working-class resentment. Bannon — inexplicably touting his Ivy League credentials in Alabama — was sent packing even as Moore was invoking God’s will in refusing to concede. Conservatives should take heart that Bannon’s incoherent stew of white nationalism and wacky economic populism did nothing to help Alabama conservatives overcome their misgivings about Moore.
Shaming and scolding, obviously, are not the only answer to our dysfunctional politics. Conservatives who oppose the politics of people such as Moore and Bannon will have to make a better case than disgust. Nonetheless, if sensible conservatives want to reclaim the GOP, they need to stop responding to small-minded, un-American resentments that have nothing to do with politics or government and everything to do with crackpot notions of social revenge. They can begin by returning three important words to our national lexicon: Shame on you.