Posted by Heba Mohammad on December 18, 2017 in Blog

Screen_Shot_2017-12-22_at_2.54.54_PM.pngThis year’s election results demonstrated Americans’ resolve to soundly reject bigotry of all forms when choosing representatives. That resolve was on full display in Alabama’s recent special election when former prosecutor Doug Jones defeated Judge Roy Moore with a comfortable margin to become the state’s next Senator. There was surprise at this victory, but, if the 2017 elections are indicative of a larger pattern, these surprise outcomes are becoming more normalized in a country with an increasingly alert and engaged citizenry.

The Alabama race had been written off as a done deal but Roy Moore’s brand of conservatism relied so heavily on bigotry and his twisted interpretation of religion, that it turned heads across the nation, and encouraged action.

Moore, who held elected office before, has successfully campaigned and served on an unapologetically prejudicial platform. Among his most abhorrent and ignorant hits are his beliefs that: Muslims should not serve in elected office; “homosexual conduct should be illegal;” and Christian doctrine supersedes American laws when conflicts arise, a belief demonstrated when he refused to uphold a federal ruling allowing same-sex marriage throughout the country. Using this rhetoric, Moore’s fringe platform has found support from a core constituency which has stood by him even through the recent allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against Moore.

Ultimately, enough Alabama voters, led by black women, decided enough was enough, and turned out to vote for Jones. The same could be said of Moore supporters, who turned out to defend their candidate and the values he claimed to represent. Overall, turnout reached 40%, far exceeding predications. Some 22,000 also turned out to just to write-in a candidate. An action many analysts read as a vote against Moore. The stakes of this race were simply too high for voters to sit out, and this election is one of many this year when a candidate’s prejudicial beliefs and behaviors have prompted unexpected political shakeups thanks to an awakened electorate conscious.

Alabama’s outcome was a clear repudiation of Trump's bigoted policies after Moore and Trump intertwined their respective positions and fates. In doing so, Moore joins a growing list of defeated candidates across the country who relied on fear and bigotry to propel them to victory, only to be stopped by Americans who refuse to accept that hatred should govern us.

Meanwhile, Jones’ victory places him among a growing list of victorious candidates who faced bigotry in their own races, and who helped inspire a revival of inclusivity in our government. Here are a few of the victors:

The diversity of these candidates, and others, and the wide-ranging attacks targeting them indicate the shifts in political attitudes happening across the country aren’t relegated to one religion, race, gender, ethnicity, class, region, etc. Bigotry in all forms is being rejected everywhere, and elected officials are increasingly held accountable for their outdated, intolerant beliefs and actions.

As we look to 2018, candidates and constituents alike should learn from the lessons of the recent elections: hate and bigotry do not win.

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