Much has been made of the Republican Primary for an Alabama special election which took place this past Tuesday night between Luther Strange and Judge Roy Moore. The reason is the amount of attention it received from higher ups in the GOP, President Trump and Mitch McConnell in particular.
The election is being held to fill the senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions as he left to take on the duties of Attorney General. Both McConnell and Trump had backed Luther Strange in the primary, with the latter holding a rally in Alabama last Friday to stump for Strange. Vice President Mike Pence also held a rally for Strange in the days leading up to Tuesday.
The voters had different ideas however, and expressed them by handing Moore the victory. It wasn’t even close. This has caused a bit of a stir in the political punditry business, as your standard politial bloviator can not conceive of a situation in which a local candidate losing with the explicit support of the President, Vice President and Senate Majority Leader as anything other than a disaster.
As usual, the conventional political analysis is wrong.
By all accounts, Luther Strange was the candidate with the GOP Establishment seal of approval, while Roy Moore was the candidate which espoused a more ‘traditionalist’ mindset, which is a large element of the Make America Great Again mindset in totality. The voters preferred the latter.
The intervention of Trump undoubtedly clouds things, and there is no doubt the fact that he backed a losing horse here is a bit of a negative. But it is more than dwarfed by the big picture, which is that Trumpism is larger than Trump the man. The media has gone to great lengths to describe how ‘crazy’ Moore is, pointing out endlessly that he was kicked from the Alabama bench twice, once for refusing to remove the Ten Commandments from public display, and the other time for refusing to abide by the gay marriage law of 2015. He also famously waived a gun around on stage during a speech in show of his support for the Second Amendment.
To the standard political bloviator, these things are highly problematic. To Trump voters, however, this is the exact sort of fight that DC politicians, even supposedly conservative politicians, have failed to show for a long time. For decades, traditional minded voters have watched as politician after politician promised to uphold their values, and then subsequently went on to surrender all of those values, right down to the sanctity of the girls’ bathroom.
It is the reason Trump himself won, despite being ‘unpresidential.’ To this day, this charge is leveled against him as evidence of his failure as a President. However, the fact that he is not another Bush, Obama or Clinton is his exact appeal, as ‘presidential’ has come to mean the slow but sure destruction of American heritage and values in each and every respect. May Trump continue to be ‘unpresidential.’
Similarly, someone like Moore is a breath of fresh air in comparison to the staid ‘conservatives’ like McConnell which have polluted the DC air for too long. Indeed, it was probably the association with McConnell that sunk Strange.
In the wake of Strange’s defeat, many pundits are just now asking questions about an upheaval on the right, as though 2016 didn’t happen. Their wonderment at the result suggests they are still unaware of the realignment that has taken place over the last 18 months. Politics is no longer Republicans versus Democrats vying for which side of the Uniparty coin will be face up. It is about the establishment Republicans, Democrats, their special interests and mainstream media, which collectively making up the Uniparty, against those who want to MAGA.
In Alabama, the MAGA candidate won, and in doing so defied Trump himself. This, combined with Tennessee senator Bob Corker, Uniparty denizen announcing that he would not stand for re-election in 2018, represented a YUGE night for MAGA politics. As I wrote before, it is indicative of a Trumpism which is politically viable without Trump himself leading the charge. This is the theme for the 2018 terms.