As everyone presumably now knows, Judge Roy Moore will be the Republican nominee for Senator from the very red state of Alabama. The general belief is that it is that Moore will win in November but, because of his extremism, the nomination of Moore has made it conceivable that his Democratic opponent — Doug Jones — can take the seat for the Democrats.
I am not going to claim that my own campaign for Congress in a very red District — the congressional seat held for almost a quarter century by Republican Bob Goodlatte, currently the Trump-protecting Chair of the House Judiciary Committee — makes me an expert on campaign strategy. But at least I have some relevant experience. And I’ve given some thought to the challenge of reaching Republican voters.
In these times, it is very hard to get people who regard themselves as Republicans to consider voting for anyone who has a D next to their name on the ballot.
Nonetheless, Mr. Jones has an opportunity. Maybe he can win, and even if he doesn’t win, maybe he can teach the voters of Alabama something about how to think about Judge Moore, whom Charlie Pierce has called, on Esquire, a “lawless theocratic lunatic.”
Here’s a big part of how I’d recommend Mr. Jones campaign against Moore — for both those purposes.
I would focus on Moore as an “enemy of the Constitution,” while also presenting him as a hypocrite regarding God– the God to whom he incessantly declares his allegiance, but to whom he has also shown himself willing to break his solemn promise.
His disregard of the Constitution is well known, shown for example:
- by his refusal to obey binding orders from Courts empowered by the Constitution to command him (the “supremacy clause”);
- by proposing the kind of “religious test” that the Constitution specifically forbids (i.e. Moore’s declaring that Muslims should be barred from serving in Congress);
- and especially, by his proclaiming that his own religious beliefs should take precedence over what the law or the Constitution requires (the “Establishment clause”).
I’m not aware of anyone calling attention to this hypocrisy angle. (And I’m not sure I’ve composed the most impactful way of using it against him with the Alabama electorate.) But my sense is that this could score points in Alabama, with its highly religious citizenry.
Here’s the contradiction by which Moore might be successfully pilloried:
1) He declares that God (meaning his religious beliefs) takes precedence over the Constitution; but then
2) He has violated his oath as an Alabama justice — with his hand on the Bible, “so help me God” — to “support the Constitution.”
A private citizen can put his religion before the Constitution. But Moore will not be able to take a seat in the Senate without swearing to “support and defend” the Constitution of the United States.
If I were Mr. Jones, I would press Moore as to whether, if he were to become Senator, the citizens of Alabama can count on him to honor his oath of office this time, unlike before, or whether he would again make a solemn promise, before God, in bad faith.
So, Mr. Moore: If you come to take the required oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States,” can the people of Alabama believe you? Can even God, before whom you’ve taken and broken oaths before, believe you?