Photo from CNN.com
By: Mitch Williams

On Tuesday, the nation watched as Alabama went to the polls to elect Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ replacement. To the nation, the election was about morality – a matter of right and wrong. However, to Alabamians, the election was about rectifying the stigma we spent decades overcoming. In the 1960’s, Governor George Wallace was making a name for himself by defending the pro-segregation “values” of Alabamians. However, those values – and its supporters – are virtually extinct in our state.

The Alabama the nation knew is gone; we are no longer known for regressive racism, but rather, for progress. We are known for the man first sent to the moon, for building nearly every Mercedes driving on the road, and for developing the missile defense system that will protect us from the threat of a nuclear North Korea.

As the nation tuned in on Tuesday, they thought Alabamians were deciding between an alleged pedophile and a partial-birth abortionist. However, in reality, Alabamians had a much more profound choice ahead of them: to feed the longstanding stereotype of regression and bigotry by voting for Moore, or take a shot at making a new name for ourselves by voting for Jones?

Alabamians also had a practical decision to make – one that most in the media failed to cover. To many in the state, this vote was a business decision: who’s going to benefit our economy most? Roy Moore, with his fiery rhetoric and polarizing policies, quite simply, was bad for Alabama’s market.

The concerns – both personal and pragmatic – about Moore were nothing new in Alabama. He’s really never been popular. Moore has been removed from office twice, lost the gubernatorial race twice, and even the few elections he has won were by the slimmest of margins. His career has been consistently broiled with unbecoming controversy – the kind from which Alabamians have worked hard to distance themselves.

Because of that, honestly, most Alabamians didn’t even care about the absolute truthfulness of the sexual assault allegations. It was simply yet another controversy for Moore, and Alabamians were tired of tying their name to his. So tired were they, it seems, that thousands of them either stayed home, voted for Nick Saban or – even worse – voted for Doug Jones. No matter what, Moore’s dissenters in Alabama made themselves perfectly clear: Alabama’s ideals are higher than Roy Moore’s, and they won’t play the game of party-line politics. will not tolerate strict party-line politics.

Experts” claim this is a referendum on President Trump. However, that’s just not true. Polls show that the majority of Alabamians support President Trump. We remain a pro-Trump state. We just don’t like Roy Moore.

Now, I know what you’re thinking:  Moore did win nearly 50% of the votes. There is, of course, a significant voting base that will remain faithful to the Republican party no matter what. However, that base is largely elderly, and, as it goes, that base is shrinking. While it may have taken a record turnout to suppress that voting base, the future is clear—most Alabamians will no longer vote Republican just because. We are going to vote for the best candidate, or we won’t vote at all.

Gone are the days of reliable, binary party politics. For Alabamian conservatives, our days of settling for mediocre candidates are over. Our state deserves better. We all do.

Mitch Williams graduated from the University of Alabama in 2016 and is a second year law Student at the Jones School of Law at Faulkner University.
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  • The suppressed GOP turnout was likely due more to dissatisfaction with Moore, although Trump support has certainly fallen off in some measure. Democratic turnout likely surged more as a repudiation of Trumpism-Bannonism, whether that of the POTUS or of Moore, not that those credible allegations didn’t matter, too. The Alabama takeaway for 2018 is that such a democratic surge can be expected elsewhere, indeed a referendum on Trump, with significant implications in less red and swing states.

    This article was well written and seemed a very accurate and hopeful portrayal of election dynamics in Alabama. Clearly it was much less a referendum on Trump or even Bannon than on Moore.

    Certainly, however much of the democratic surge was attributable to only Moore vs only Trump makes for an interesting question. There may not be enough Trump disaffection to turn Alabama purple, but the same turnout surge elsewhere in 2018 will turn DOZENS of congressional districts, more than expected during midterms in general, historically.