I hate to throw water on the big celebration, but Roy Moore’s defeat in Alabama is no indication that the Donald Trump era in American politics is drawing to a close.
The fact that Doug Jones, a decent human being, barely eked out a win against a Republican accused of molesting young girls actually shows how much work the Democrats have left to do if they hope to make a dent in the GOP’s “Solid South” strategy.
Based on what we know about the two candidates, the U.S. Senate race in Alabama should not have been close…at least not in a nation where rational people are supposed to be voting.
But these aren’t rational times in the United States, and I fear we face many more years of extreme polarization before we begin to find a new normal – whatever that might be.
The Jones victory does prove one thing, however: It proves that black voters have far more political power than they have been willing to exercise on a consistent basis. And that clout will only grow stronger as America becomes browner, moving toward that predicted day when no race will have an outright majority.
According to a CNN exit poll, 30 percent of Alabama’s voters were black — a higher share than in the 2008 and 2012 elections, when Barack Obama was on the ballot. The exit poll also showed that 96 percent of blacks in Alabama favored Jones. (That’s a higher percentage than Obama received.)
In other words, black folks in Alabama showed up and showed out.
So what does this mean for the larger picture affecting blacks in America?
It means that in a nation so divided along political lines, we don’t need a population majority to swing an election; we simply need to march to the polls and vote.
For a preview of what America is projected to look like in the not-too-distant future, look no farther than our own Charlotte, North Carolina, where African Americans now dominate local government with roughly 35 percent of the city’s population.
It’s no wonder that Republicans in state legislatures around the nation – including in North Carolina — are grappling to devise all manner of strategies to suppress black turnout. I’ll say one thing for those GOP lawmakers; they aren’t stupid.
The election of Obama sent a shockwave through the heart of conservative America. And despite the fact that Republicans now control all branches of the federal government and a majority of state governments, the party’s long-term prospects grow bleak.
Which brings me back to Moore’s demise in Alabama (which I didn’t predict, by the way).
Sure, Moore lost, but by the thinnest of margins. That indicates strongly that many white Southerners, no matter what, will cling to their identity politics — a good omen for Trump and others like him. In addition, with congressional and state legislative districts gerrymandered as they are, it will prove difficult for progressives to consistently prevail in the short term, even when facing GOP candidates with ugly warts.
But it can be done. And black voters in Alabama just reconfirmed the roadmap.