The Republican Party is a morally bankrupt institution. For those who were not around for yesterday’s news bomb, let me catch you up. Roy Moore, who is the Republican candidate running to fill Jeff Sessions’ vacant Senate seat in next month’s special election, was already known to be a reprehensible human before yesterday’s bombshell. He advocated a religious test for members of Congress—saying that Muslims are unfit to serve in public office. Moore also wants to make homosexuality illegal. It’s no secret that this man was an undemocratic tyrant who had no interest in serving more constituents than his thin slice of religious zealots who don’t practice what they preach, and The Washington Post’s bombshell about him initiating a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl when he was 32 is even more proof of his unfitness for office.
If the Republicans were the party they purport to be, they would disavow Moore immediately. The WaPo story is impeccably sourced, with Moore’s multiple accusers going on the record to describe his evil. A normal political party would immediately denounce him like this:
Innocent until proven guilty is for criminal convictions, not elections. I believe Leigh Corfman. Her account is too serious to ignore. Moore is unfit for office and should step aside.— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) November 10, 2017
But alas, the Republican Party has eschewed Mitt Romney's moral decency in favor of tribal anger and grievance, and this is officially the party of Trump. Trump's response that “very fine people” existed in the crowds of white supremacists and Nazis who murdered one woman in Charlottesville, and the GOP's subsequent avoidance of condemning the president, is but one example of how the party has empowered Hitler's descendants. White evangelical Christians support our thrice-married “grab them by the pussy” president more than almost any other constituency. Eighty-one percent voted for him, and as of April, 78% of white evangelical Protestants still approve of Trump's job as president. This is embodied in high-profile bloggers like Erik Erickson, who wrote a column titled: I Don't Blame Roy Moore Voters For Standing With Him. Here is the thesis of the post:
Along comes a story about Roy Moore, a happily married man, that involves facts from 30 to 40 years ago and many of the same people who've spent a long time covering for people like Harvey Weinstein and are still covering for Hollywood pedophiles are piling on the man. The GOP, who hates cultural conservatives anyway, was quick to pile on.
I don't blame the Roy Moore voters for thinking people are out to get them because people really are out to get them.
Moore is a fighter for these people. He purports to share their values.
The GOP is so morally bankrupt that you don't even need to actually support someone's values to get their vote—just to “purport to share” them. This Roy Moore saga is unassailable proof that the prime motivating factor in today's Republican Party is hatred towards liberals, far more than standing for anything that they believe in.
After a long pause, Alabama Bibb County Republican chairman Jerry Pow tells me he'd vote for Roy Moore even if Moore did commit a sex crime against a girl.
"I would vote for Judge Moore because I wouldn't want to vote for Doug," he says. "I'm not saying I support what he did."— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) November 9, 2017
"Yeah!" Covington County GOP Chairman William Blocker tells me he'd consider voting Moore even if hard proof of sexual abuse emerged.
"There is NO option to support to support Doug Jones, the Democratic nominee. When you do that, you are supporting the entire Democrat party."— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) November 9, 2017
Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler, a Moore backer: "Even if you accept the Washington Post's report as being completely true, it's much ado about very little. " #ALSEN#alpolitics— Brian Lyman (@lyman_brian) November 9, 2017
Alabama State Representative Ed Henry told The Cullman Times that Moore's victims should be prosecuted.
“If they believe this man is predatory, they are guilty of allowing him to exist for 40 years. I think someone should prosecute and go after them. You can't be a victim 40 years later, in my opinion.”
Elected officials within the Republican Party are actually defending pedophilia. What the hell is happening? This is absolutely astounding, but I guess this is what happens when you ditch your ethics for a political agenda of constantly feeling sorry for yourself. The only ground they're willing to stand on is in opposition to an invented boogeyman—which by definition—means that the GOP has no guiding principles. Given the litany of local officials supporting Moore on the basis that the WaPo story is true, I think it's safe to say that a huge chunk of the Republican Party would support Republican Hitler over any Democrat.
To be fair, not every member of the Republican Party is still backing Moore. Pretty much the entire Senate leadership (save for those who already endorsed him) called on Moore to drop out of the race “if” the story is true. But that doesn't demonstrate any moral backbone, it just proves that they're worried Moore will lose now, and qualifying their demands with “if” the story is true gives Moore plenty of room to deny it—and he is. If Mitch McConnell and the rest of the Republicans calling on Moore to drop out had any moral convictions, they would have spoken up after the Access Hollywood tape last year. But instead, the old guard in the GOP only cares about winning so they can give tax cuts to billionaires, and this saga is proof that it literally does not matter who it is. So long as they have an R next to their name, they will get Republican support.
This is what 44 seconds of Republican senators not responding to questions about Roy Moore sounds like | Analysis by CNN's Chris Cillizza https://t.co/UjrztCYHTHpic.twitter.com/8iDaBN4jEX— CNN (@CNN) November 10, 2017
This attitude led the GOP to hitch their wagon to Trump’s white nationalism, just as they went all in on Richard Nixon’s racist “Southern Strategy.” Whatever Republicans want to tell themselves about what they stand for, one look at the Oval Office reveals the practical outcome of their actions. They have become a party whose entire identity is wrapped up in opposing Democrats, liberalism and social progress—which leaves them vulnerable to endorsing the Roy Moore’s of the world. When you live a life where you’re willing to support a pedophile for Congress or a white nationalist for president simply on the grounds that they’re not liberals, you are telling everyone that you’ve given up your principles, and you care far more about hurting other people than helping yourself. Welcome to the modern Republican Party.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.