Recovering alcoholics identify the moment they decide to quit drinking as “hitting bottom,” a point in time when they recognize their drinking behavior has become so embarrassing, so hurtful, and so destructive – to themselves and others – that boozing it up is no longer worth the temporary feelings of elation, power, and self-regard they get from drinking. Maybe Roy Moore’s loss in Alabama was the moment when the Republican Party recognized it hit bottom; maybe it will reform and become a recognizably American political party again.
And maybe not. As long as Republicans can con working people into shooting themselves in the foot and yelling “bullseye!” every time they pull the trigger, the Party may still do its Trumpiest best to provide the ammunition. The real question is, “has the Democratic Party hit bottom yet?”
What the Roy Moore-Doug Jones race showed was that Democrats beat a credibly alleged pedophile by the tiniest margin: Moore votes, plus votes for Republican write-in candidates, totaled 51%. If the GOP had nominated a dog with all four legs, instead of Moore, old Spot would be barking in the US Senate today. Yes, turnout by African Americans in Alabama (26% of the state’s population) made the difference, but in Arkansas African Americans represent only 16% of the general population, and in crucial swing states like Michigan (14%), Ohio (12%), Missouri (11%), and Wisconsin (6%), their turnout is certainly important, but has much less impact.
If the Democratic Party wants to sober up and win back voters, it can start by recognizing that it controlled the Executive branch of government for 16 of the last 25 years, during which time the cost of everything except wages has gone up. Americans don’t need more programs, and they don’t need to be told to go to school and get smart. They need fair wages and equitable benefits for the work they’re already doing.
It’s great that Democrats won an election (one) in Alabama. But in 2018, 466 federal offices and 87 of 99 legislative chambers – state houses and senate seats – will be contested. If Democrats want out of the bottom they’ll have to show voters the money.