The press is reporting GOP finger-pointing after Tuesday’s Special Election loss in Alabama. That is not fake news.
Ann Coulter (I fondly remember her before 9/11, when she was still sane and funny, but I stopped following her years ago) says:
Bannon is the least culpable! Order of blame: 1) McConnell; 2) Kushner; 3) Trump [August 15: Primary – Mo Brooks killed by those 3 ganging up on him]; August 18: Bannon leaves the White House, backs best of bad options. https://t.co/RYRVbi0Vip
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) December 13, 2017
David French pointedly replies:
True order of culpability 1) GOP primary voters 2) Moore 3) Moore 4) Moore 5) Bannon 6) Trump (only man who could have perhaps pushed Moore from the race). https://t.co/LEHfaJZh6H
— David French (@DavidAFrench) December 13, 2017
I’m with French.
This is the message to the GOP: Stop ignoring us. Stop pretending you can count on our votes. Stop thinking of us as useful idiots. [Tuesday night], we were almost certainly one of the two main reasons you lost a senate seat in Alabama—repeat, in Alabama! (The other reason is that black voters turned out in droves and helped make sure we didn’t send a pedophile—forgive me, Federalist writers, a hebephile—to Washington.)
But there is also a message here for the Democrats: You trotted out a relentlessly pro-choice candidate to run against a pedophile. And you won. But one of the main reasons you won is because principled pro-life voters couldn’t bring themselves to support Moore. If the GOP trots out anyone besides Roy Moore, this isn’t a close election.
So “stop being afraid to run pro-choice candidates” is a bizarre lesson to take from last night. If my read on the write-ins is correct, this is what we have established:
- Partisanship seems to have some limits.
- Even when running against someone as horrible as Moore, there are an electorally significant number of voters who would sooner abstain than vote for a pro-choice candidate.
Given both of those points, wouldn’t the more logical move be to say that there are apparently pro-life voters who are movable in terms of partisan affiliation and that even some token effort to woo us would probably pay off? …
Unfortunately, we aren’t going to find out the answer to that question because the Democrats have decided they would rather applaud the legalized dismembering of unborn infants than even slightly temper their commitment to this brutal regime in order to become a broader, more diverse coalition. And even when confronted with strong evidence that pro-life voters are not immovably tied to the GOP, they will still look at that evidence and say, “see, you can be unapologetically pro-choice and win elections.” It’s maddening, but it seems to be the republic we live in.
The “message to the GOP” is fairly apt, but there is no sinister and cynical GOP out there imposing Roy Moores and Donald Trumps on us. Both were anti-establishment candidates selected by disaffected voters, which is why I agree with David French rather than Ann Coulter. It’s not even close, fer cryin’ out loud!
Meador’s proof of his assertion to Democrats (“one of the main reasons you won is because principled pro-life voters couldn’t bring themselves to support Moore”) is that the proportion of write-in votes increased ten-fold and the extra write-in votes exceeded Jones’ margin over Moore.
This is quite important, but I don’t want to discount that Moore’s odiousness also made it possible to energize Democrats, particularly black Democrats, with the whiff of blood in the water. Yes, the increase in write-ins exceeded Jones’ margin of victory, but he never would have gotten within striking distance had Democrats not had cause to hope for a win, and to work for it, which hope was rooted in Moore’s creepiness.
[Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian] gives us a litmus test for determining when people like her have to bother themselves with noticing Christians’ problems:
How will we know when American Christians are genuinely under threat? When they start changing their names from the obviously biblical “Andrew” and “Mary” to the more secular “William” or “Jennifer” in order to avoid hiring discrimination. When Christians in Congress hide their faith and instead loudly claim to be atheists. When Christians are regularly blocked from buying homes or renting apartments in the good parts of town. When the president of the United States calls for Christians to be banned from the country. Then we can start taking claims of religious discrimination at face value.
How convenient. If a Baptist florist loses her livelihood and is driven into bankruptcy, but Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, a woman of Christian background who says she doesn’t go to church any longer, doesn’t register that as discrimination, should Christians like me worry?
A GOP insider e-mailed me this morning to say:
It’s hard to be a Republican sometimes given how stupid and ham-fisted we can be, but what’s the choice? Yesterday the House Committee handling the new Higher Ed bill met for mark-up. The bill includes language prohibiting the government from taking adverse action against religious schools that receive Title IV funding (student loans) because the government disagrees with the religious mission/practice of the school. The ranking Democrat voted to strip out the language and it stayed in on a party line vote.
This language is a big priority of the CCCU schools [a coalition of Protestant colleges — RD], many of which do everything they possibly can to signal their support for a host of progressive causes, but when push comes to shove they have only Republicans to go to for protection. I’m as frustrated with the GOP as anyone, but then, there is this stuff…
Yes, there is.
(Rod Dreher) The Democrats want to be able to take adverse action under Title IV against disfavored religious schools, but I haven’t had to change my name yet, so I guess there’s no problem.
I can imagine what Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian may be feeling if she has turned hostile toward orthodox Christianity, which has actually gotten some halfway favorable press coverage in the past few weeks. But taking her words seriously, I can only treat them as calloused and as deeply un-American.
If the commitment to free speech provisions under the First Amendment takes precedence over Title IX, the Equal Protection Clause, and the Berkeley Principles of Community, then I suppose we are being asked to understand that we will, in the name of freedom of speech, willingly allow our environment to be suffused with hatred, threats, and violence, that we will see the values we teach and to which we adhere destroyed by our commitment to free speech or, rather, to a very specific – possibly overbroad – interpretation of what constitutes expressive activity protected by that constitutional principle.
If free speech does take precedence over every other constitutional principle and every other community principle, then perhaps we should no longer claim to be weighing or balancing competing principles or values.
We should perhaps frankly admit that we have agreed in advance to have our community sundered, racial and sexual minorities demeaned, the dignity of trans people denied, that we are, in effect, willing to be wrecked by this principle of free speech, considered more important than any other value. If so, we should be honest about the bargain we have made: we are willing to be broken by that principle, and that, yes, our commitments to dignity, equality, and non-violence will be, for better or worse, secondary. Is that how we want it to be?
(Judith Butler, speaking for restrictions on free speech at Berkeley, as quoted by Conor Friedersdorf)
Friedersdorf is having none of it:
Butler’s instincts are different than mine in part because she believes that wrongheaded speakers wield extraordinary power over college students, and implies one cannot really oppose bad values without suppressing the expression of them.
Butler is wrongheaded in implying that if one always permits speech that attacks a dearly held value one may as well give up on defending it as a primary value—as if one cannot hate something a person says, defend their right to say it, and employ other tools, like logic, or satire, or protest, or organizing, to ensure that their view doesn’t prevail
* * * * *
I would a thousand times rather have dinner with secular liberals of a certain temperament than with a group of religious conservatives who agreed with me about most things, but who have no sense of humor or irony.