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John Chuckman


Roy Moore loses to Doug Jones in humiliating Senate result for Donald Trump

For British readers unfamiliar with politics in the American South, this may be helpful.

All the Deep South was once solidly Democratic, but it was always a subtle battle with principles to keep it so.

It was Democratic, not out of any principle about social welfare, but because of Republican Lincoln and the Civil War. Grudges last a long time in this part of the world.

Eleanor Roosevelt once approached Franklin after another lynching in the 1930s, asking him to speak out.

In this neck of the woods, they actually used to hold family picnics when there was to be a lynching. It was treated as free public entertainment.

FDR explained that he couldn’t speak without bitterly alienating Southern Democrats.

And he was right. The term “Southern Democrat” actually named a special sub-party group that had its own party rules. All that changed after Lyndon Johnson’s Civil Rights Bill put an end to Jim Crow laws and suppression of voting.

The Southern Democrats became Republicans, almost overnight. Public school integration – a topic of big publicity in the 1960s – was put an end to in novel fashion, by opening private “Christian” schools and academies all over. The public schools became black.

The South’s new Republicans have pretty much remained that way since.

So, this victory is a pretty big deal, just in case you are influenced to think by the relatively small differences in total vote percentages that it was not.

It is important too because Trump staked a great deal of his very scarce (both with his own party and the opposition – he is still regarded as an outsider and a party hi-jacker by many big-shot Republicans) political capital on this nasty Republican candidate, and Trump won this state in his election.

I am not sure what all went into the mix – sex scandals, an aggressive Republican candidate’s personality, weariness with Trump, actual quiet support by some big Republicans who still don’t like Trump, plus other matters – but I know it is important. Trump and the Republicans in Washington know that too.

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