If it were solely up to White voters in Alabama, Roy Moore — the racist, xenophobic, sexist, anti-gay, anti-trans disgraced judge who dances onstage while toting a gun as if he were Yosemite Sam and has been accused of pedophilia by numerous women — would easily win Tuesday’s special election over the seat left vacant by former senator turned attorney general Jeff Sessions.
Despite credible evidence presented, a recent CBS poll found that 71 percent of Alabama Republicans believe the allegations made against Moore are made up. Moreover, last week, a Washington Post poll showed that nearly 6 in 10 White women in Alabama are likely to vote for Moore despite multiple accusations that he sexually assaulted teenage girls when he was in his 30s. And while “women” were given a lot of credit for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam’s win in Virginia, as the Post’s Eugene Scott highlights, most White women — 51 percent to be exact — backed Republican Ed Gillespie, who ran a racist campaign similar to the one ran by Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.
So, it was actually Black women who saved the Democrats in Virginia and it is now Black voters — notably Black women — who have become the focus of Alabama Democratic senatorial candidate Doug Jones’ as he tries to escape being defeated by an accused pedophile.
At the end of November, the New York Times published, “Black Voters Could Sway an Alabama Senate Race Rocked by Scandal.” There are many reasons to eye roll throughout the piece. For starters, it depicted Black voters as clueless and out of touch, and while that may be the case for those reporter Richard Fausset interviewed, certainly he could have found more people to paint a more nuanced portrayal of Black Alabama voters.
After all, Fausset did as much for the Nazi he profiled in the piece “A Voice of Hate in America’s Heartland.”
Regardless of how one feels about the framing, the biggest offense of the piece is from Doug Jones campaign.
Although whites make up about 71 percent of the Alabama electorate, black voters can exert substantial influence, depending on their turnout. The secretary of state’s office says that there are about 765,000 active black voters on the rolls and that only about one million voters are expected to go to the polls for the Senate race.
A Fox News poll conducted this month, after the first allegations against Mr. Moore became public, showed Mr. Jones drawing the support of 79 percent of nonwhite registered voters. Mr. Moore, the poll found, had the backing of fewer than one in 10 such voters.
Mr. Jones’s campaign manager, Wade Perry, said the candidate would not tailor his message to black voters, but focus instead on the more universal messages of job creation and health care. One new TV ad addresses the allegations of sexual misconduct against Mr. Moore. It features Ivanka Trump’s statement that there is “a special place in hell for people who prey on children”; Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ comment that he has “no reason to doubt” Mr. Moore’s accusers; and the decision by Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama not to vote for Mr. Moore.
“Doug has said from Day 1 that there is not a different message in different communities,” Mr. Perry said. “And what we’re seeing is folks are responding to our message.”
Ah, the colorblind message. How well has that been reporting for Democrats in recent years? To Doug Jones’ credit, in 2001 and 2002 while working as a United States attorney, he successfully prosecuted two White Klansmen for their roles in the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham that killed four Black girls. Jones has also prosecuted men who have sexually abused and preyed upon children. Nevertheless, he may very well lose to Moore because he squandered time not directly crafting messages that speak to the voting bloc that could hand him power in a low turnout special election.
To wit, after this piece ran, Politico ran another highlighting Jones’ rush to reach Black voters. He’s attended Selma’s annual Christmas parade recently. He’s held a fish fry in Montgomery. While doing so, he’s spoken about the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement’s roots in the state. That said, it may be too little, too late.
“I was very concerned early on that too few efforts were being made to organize and mobilize the Black vote,” Alabama state Sen. Hank Sanders explained. “But there are certainly more efforts in the last week or so.” Others are lending their efforts, but ultimately, I still take issue with Jones’ methodology, which reminds me of the Democrats’ overall problem with Black voters.
FOX News is hyperbolic (to say the least) in its claims of a “backlash” over this campaign mailing. It looks like an Internet meme in the form of a campaign flier. I don’t really see the harm. What is unfortunate, however, is that Doug Jones merely thinks a flier like this or mentioning the name Rosa Parks is enough to galvanize Black voters in a deep red state.
What he and many other national Democratic leaders fail to grasp is that colorblind policies don’t matter. Yes, we all care about the economy, but racism is an economic issue. Furthermore, sexual harassment impacts Black women more than White women, and that, too, is an economic issue. Given how integral Black women would be in a Doug Jones win, it would have behooved him to tailor his message to the voting blocs he needs.
Doug Jones’ campaign manager may feel there is no need for a different message for different communities under the belief that we ultimately all share the same concerns. That may be the case to an extent, but the reality is, this country has its barriers and those at the bottom of the social hierarchy are impacted differently. Those differences ought to be acknowledged and addressed accordingly by a Democrat, who needs us more than we need him.
It is my hope that Jones somehow manages to prevail, but should he not, it will be another example of Democrats losing an election because they spent too much time chasing White voters that have long abandoned them.