Hyperpartisanship blurs moral lines in Alabama election
Updated: May 9, 2022
Artwork by Paola Mathus
Yet again, America finds hyperpartisanship interfering with ethics. On Dec. 12, voters in Alabama must decide on a senator to represent their state: Democratic candidate Doug Jones or Republican candidate Roy Moore. But these candidates differ on more than their parties. Moore has been accused of sexually abusing minors by at least four different women, who were all in their teens at the time of the alleged assault.
What should be a simple choice — a choice between a man who prosecuted members of the Ku Klux Klan and an alleged pedophile — is apparently a difficult question being raised and warranting heated debates.
Alabama is not known to be the most liberal state. Gallup considers Alabama to be the fifth most conservative state in the U.S., and conservatives outnumber liberals by approximately 30 percentage points. Thus, it comes as no surprise that Moore had enjoyed being in the lead up until recently despite voters knowing that they are potentially supporting a pedophile.
Additionally, Alabama is not known to be the most accepting of change or authority. Years back during the Civil War, Alabama proudly joined the secession to keep allowing slave ownership. It was one of the last states to racially integrate schools and was reluctant to allow marriage equality. Today, party chairwoman Terry Lathan stated that "Alabamians will be the ultimate jury in this election, not the media or those from afar," pushing away anyone outside the state of Alabama. Loyalty is an admirable quality. However, this intention to defend and protect Alabama by mindlessly defending its every action regardless of right or wrong ultimately hurts Alabama. Voting for a Democrat does break the Republican status quo of the state, but this choosing a candidate to represent Alabama just because of political affiliation does anything but protect Alabama. It's committing state suicide.
Even some of those who believe that Moore is a child molester consider Moore to be the more qualified candidate. Right-leaning author David Horowitz tweeted "electing a Dem strengthens a party that defends [criminals such as Obama and Clinton whose] crimes are far far worse," Jones is automatically an inferior choice. Others on Twitter have shared this common sentiment. These votes are not swayed by actual policies or morals; they are made solely by party affiliation. This is not an issue that only Republicans or right-wing parties are susceptible to, but we are in a situation where there is a great political division and exacerbated by a president that further perpetuates a division between the two prominent political parties.
Controversial blogger Elizabeth Johnston, known as The Activist Mommy, posted a meme on her Twitter, placing Moore on a higher moral ground than Jones. The meme argues that since Moore allegedly molested a child but Jones definitely advocates for what she calls "actual infanticide," Moore is the more ethical choice. Additionally, she has spoken to support Moore, whom she believes is "the greatest judge in America who has faithfully fought for 20 years for the unborn, traditional marriage, the 10 commandments, and the constitution." Her defending Moore is not that surprising, given her perception that Christian America is under attack. However, it is disheartening to know that she influences thousands of people on the Internet and can potentially validate hardcore Republicans who ultimately decide that party is more important than policy or ethics.
I understand that topics such as abortion are sensitive and topics of great gravity. However, latching onto a candidate because of one stance and disregarding everything else about the candidate is uneducated at best. Moore "fighting for the unborn" does not erase the striking evidence that states he preyed on young and vulnerable girls.
Hyperpartisanship is a growing problem in the U.S., and it is not hard to see why it has increased in intensity over the years. Echo chambers and social media algorithms strategically lay out what media we surround ourselves with. Thus, we are more likely to be surrounded by media that aligns with our preexisting beliefs. Seeing something that contradicts our paradigm can be upsetting and unenjoyable for someone with strong opinions on a particular topic. However, this kind of group polarization that transforms what would be moderate stances into polarized stances.
I have lived in Alabama for ten years of my life. Am I surprised that my home state is choosing party over ethics? No. Am I ashamed and wish that I could be registered to vote in my home state instead of Pennsylvania? Yes. With less than a month remaining until the election, all I can hope is that we can separate Moore from the party that he so poorly represents.