President Trump and Washington money couldn't deliver Luther Strange a victory in the Alabama Special Election to fill Jeff Sessions' Senate seat.
Contrary to most of the United States, very few Alabamians awoke to surprise this morning that Roy Moore had defeated incumbent Senator Luther Strange in the state’s Republican Primary for a replacement for Senator Jeff Sessions. Most of them were quite confident the controversial former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court would prevail over Strange, who was appointed to the position by the disgraced former Governor Robert Bentley.
National pundits will likely cite the driving cause of the upset as Moore’s famous stand in favor of the Ten Commandments and his opposition to same-sex marriages, noting that Alabama politics are often ruled by what the media calls “Evangelicals.”
And some of that is true. Alabama citizens certainly list religion as one of their most important values, and candidates from both parties in the state realize that and try to use it to their advantage. In Moore’s case, though, a good many Alabamians saw him as a bit too radical, in refusing to comply with federal law over his religious beliefs. Still, a large segment of the population was also endeared to him for his stance.
But there was more than religion at play in this recent special election. Republican establishment spent close to $5 million in support of Strange, and Republican leader Mitch McConnell, Vice-President Mike Pence and even President Donald Trump voiced their support for the incumbent. Pence and Trump even ventured to Alabama to campaign for Strange in the final days leading up to yesterday’s vote.
Behind, religion and football in Alabama, not many things get the populace more riled up than “outside agitators,” as a former governor once labeled Washington’s influence. Alabamians simply don’t like to be told what to do by federal government officials, even the ones they helped elect. Most of the state’s citizens still believe that the Federal Government should stay out of the state’s business.
Alabama voted overwhelming in favor of Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential Election, but closer analysis will reveal they were voting for the idea of Donald Trump more so than the actual person. Trump was saying the things Alabamians wanted to hear from a president; putting America first, stopping illegal immigration, relief from the burdens of Obamacare, protecting the nation from terrorism. These things resonated with Alabama citizens, as they did in many other states.
And he wasn’t Hillary Clinton, or an Obama clone. Many Alabamians voted against the continuation of the Democratic Party’s policies as much as in favor of the positions of Trump. The success of Republicans in Congress and state legislatures validate that claim.
Trump promised to drain the swamp, and despite a few things that seem to be going in the right direction, it isn’t happening fast enough for those who voted to give him a chance. Voters in the state see the establishment as the swamp. And support for Strange by the leadership appeared as an attempt to maintain the status quo in Washington.
Alabama voters want to see hope and change, not on a poster, but in the halls of Congress and at the national level. They want to see a return to personal responsibility, standing up for your convictions, and freedom from regulations and mandates that attempt to tell the local citizens the all-wise federal government knows better how to manage their lives than they do themselves.
It’s not about Donald Trump or Mitch McConnell, or the Republican Party, or even evangelical beliefs. It’s about electing someone that identifies with your view of government. Voters are tired of the same group of politicians promising and failing to deliver
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Incumbent Democrats were replaced because their policies were failing the American people. Republicans were elected to clean up the morass that is Congress and change direction. If they also fail, incumbent Republicans will be replaced as well. The “Establishments” on both sides better look at the writing on the wall.