I spent much of Tuesday evening, Dec. 12, in a state of panic, watching as the results of Alabama’s special election came trickling in. My stomach was in knots at the prospect of Roy Moore — the man twice kicked out of his position as chief justice of his state’s Supreme Court for refusing to follow the rule of law — replacing Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III as a U.S. senator from Alabama.
When I first opened up the New York Times live election results web page, Democrat Doug Jones, the former federal prosecutor who had prosecuted two members of the Ku Klux Klan for the roles in 1963 church bombing in Birmingham that killed four young black girls, was a tiny bit ahead of Roy Moore, the Republican who has been accused of “dating” and having sexual contact with teenage girls — one as young as 14 — when he was an assistant district attorney in his 30s.
(Let me take a minute to point something out: Roy Moore has been accused of having behaved inappropriately with teenage girls when he was in his 30s. He has denied that. However, he wrote in his own autobiography, released in 2005, that he knew the first time he saw Kayla Kisor, now his wife, performing in a dance recital that she would be “a special person in my life.” She was 16 or 17 then; he was 30 or 31. Anyway, back to this week’s election.)
Then, a few minutes later I refreshed the page and felt sick to my stomach when I saw that Moore was in the lead. The Times’ website had more than just the reported numbers, though. They had some in-depth analysis that kept assuring me Jones was going to end up winning.
I was still feeling pretty queasy, though. Even after the Times and the Associated Press and others had officially called the race for Jones, I wasn’t really at ease. That didn’t come until some time later, when I was SURE, for real sure, that Jones had won. I almost cried in relief. I am sure there were plenty of people who actually did cry in relief.
So today as I write this, less than 24 hours later, I am still basking in the glory of Jones’ victory. For once, good won over evil. The homophobic, racist, right-wing extremist pedophile will not be serving in the U.S. Senate. I am elated. I know a lot of other people are, too.
But I also can already feel the elation beginning to fade. Why? Because Doug Jones won by a margin of only 1.7 percent.
Because, as Mikel Jollett tweeted on Wednesday, even after Roy Moore said gay people should be put in jail, that this country was better off under slavery, that Muslims have no place in the public life of this country and even after he was outed as a serial pedophile, the Republican National Party endorsed him and funded his campaign.
Because 54 percent of Alabamians ages 45 and older who voted Tuesday voted for Moore. Because 56 percent of fathers and 32 percent of mothers who voted voted for Moore. Because 25 percent of voters identifying as moderate and 74 percent identifying as only “somewhat conservative” voted for Moore.
That’s one of the most important lessons we — as liberals or progressives or just-not-right-wing-assholes or whatever we want to call ourselves — must take away from this election is that although we won, we won by only the thinnest of razor-thin margins.
The pendulum swung our way this week. Let’s grab hold tightly and make sure it doesn’t swing back to the other extreme in November 2018.
But there is another, equally important lesson we must take to heart.
In a conversation this morning with my friend Buster Spiller, I quoted author J.K. Rowling, who tweeted after the election that Roy Moore was right; the outcome of the vote was in God’s hands. Moore just didn’t know God was a black woman. It was a nod to the fact that black women voted for Jones by a margin of 97 percent to 3 percent. Among black men who voted, Jones won 92 percent to 7 percent.
Jones would not have won without those votes.
But Buster turned it around and pointed out to me that only 18 percent of those who voted Tuesday were black women, and only another 12 percent were black men. In other words, a full 65 percent of those who voted in this election were white men and women. So while only 32 percent of white women voted for Jones — a statistic that, quite frankly, turns my stomach — without that 32 percent, Moore would have won.
There’s your lesson: No one group won this battle alone. No one group will win this war alone.
Those of us who oppose racism and homophobia and xenophobia and misogyny and hatred and discrimination of any and all kinds must put aside the pettiness and selfishness that has divided us and fight together. And we have a long way to go.
Stand fast, my friends. Stand strong. And stand together. It’s the only path to victory in the end.
Tammye Nash is managing editor of the Dallas Voice. She is also a proud member of The Resistance.