How Is This Happening?

(Disclosure: language warning in the links)

We’re at quite a strange and disheartening time in American politics.

Some elected officials, and their supporters, did not condemn white supremacists when they caused all kinds of trouble in Charlottesville, VA, including driving a car into a crowd and killing a woman. Even vaunted political figures Jake and Elwood Blues made a strong condemnation of Nazis.

The troubling thing about Nazis or the Roy Moore scandal in Alabama isn’t necessarily that they happened. Plenty of bad dudes have gotten elected to many official positions over the years. The truly troubling thing is the tribalism we’ve seen in the reactions from politicians and supporters. And before you go and say, “it’s liberal media, blah blah doing whatever they do to make Trump/Moore/’the workin’’ man bad,” it’s not even partisan.  It’s the fact that it’s become pro-Nazi vs. anti-Nazi or pro-child molestation vs. anti-child molestation. What a time to be alive.

Roy Moore’s hardcore supporters on the right are surely going to defend him against the so-called “liberal media” attacks. The Bannonites will try to discredit the women who came forward, though they seemingly have no financial or personal incentive to come forward 40 years after the fact. Even in Alabama (insert the ‘marry your cousin’ joke here) it’s not ok to put your hands on a 14-year-old girl. But instead of focus on what did or didn’t happen, many of Moore’s supporters just shrugged it off.

Inside the store, a man who declined to give his name said, “This is Republican town, man. (Moore) could have killed Obama, and we wouldn’t care.”

The reaction from Republican leaders from around the country has been tepid from most, and inexcusable at worst. Most said Moore should step aside “if the allegations were true.” Some, like Ted Cruz, waited five days to issue this spectacular condemnation:

“As it stands, I can’t urge the people of Alabama to support a campaign in the face of these charges without serious, persuasive demonstration that the charges are not true.”

-Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas)


Thankfully, some of the grown-ups in the Senate, like Jeff Flake, Mitch McConnell, and NRSC (campaign arm) chair Cory Gardner have all made strong statements of repudiation against Moore’s actions. Though, I don’t know that those guys have much sway in Alabama.

This is not a question of legal guilt and elections are not courts of law. But the United States Senate should be the ultimate venue of decorum in this country with men and women who embody the ways of Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and John C. Calhoun.

Guys like Roy Moore don’t belong in the Senate. It shouldn’t be controversial. Why it is tells you everything about the state of our politics.

Patrick Pfingsten is an award-winning journalist, political consultant, and PR expert. You can find him on Twitter @pfingsten1 or email him at

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