The Republican party has long presented itself as a party driven by morals. Nearly all conservative policy positions are somehow grounded in their overarching ideas about what we as a society should legislate as being right and wrong. These judgments concerning issues like family planning, social assistance and their understanding of the American dream are fundamental to modern Republicanism – and thus deeply tied to the elected Republicans who ran on those issues.
Republicans, then, should look to the morals that touch so much of their core ideology, and stand up against Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore. There should be no question that Republican principles are in conflict with Moore’s alleged actions, and Republicans should act to ensure that Roy Moore is not elected to the Senate.
Alabama will have a special election this December to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ empty seat in the U.S. Senate. A deeply conservative state, this Senate race was all but assumed to belong to Moore – until Thursday. The Washington Post reported that four women, now five, allege Moore, in his thirties at the time, inappropriately pursued them as teenagers. Their story notably includes one allegation of sexual assault against a fourteen-year-old girl by Moore when he was 32.
The time has come for Republicans to stand up for what they tell us they believe. We have seen certain sections of Republicans take the first step of responding to these allegations in the way they should – denouncement. The actions alleged by multiple women, backed up with credible reporting and featuring dozens of sources across reports should be a clear sign that Roy Moore should not be a United States Senator.
If you are an elected Republican or someone in the conservative world, the first thing you need to do is easy: just say this is unacceptable. Ground your explanation for why Roy Moore should withdraw his candidacy in the values that guided your career. Stand up for the integrity you want your party to embody.
But it is not enough for national Republicans to merely distance themselves from Moore. Since it seems extremely unlikely that Roy Moore will withdraw from the race, his name will be on the ballot come December 12. For Republicans to succeed in convincing their base not to elevate Roy Moore to the Senate, it follows that someone else will have to win the seat instead of Moore.
There are two ways to do this: a write-in campaign or voters could pull the lever for a Democrat. The write-in campaign, likely for Alabama’s temporary Senator, Luther Strange, would be difficult, but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that he is looking into a write-in option. Should some consensus emerge and this write-in campaign can viably come together, then that candidate is who all those who have denounced Moore should get behind.
Given the obstacles in the way of a write-in campaign, though, principled Republicans have an obligation to do the unthinkable: tell people to vote for a Democrat. That’s the answer. Elections are choices, so voters should make the choice to stop Roy Moore from being elected to the Senate. Former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones is already on the ballot, just waiting to receive votes from people who do not want his opponent to win.
This help should be done carefully, as the narrow path for an Alabama Democrat relies on keeping the race local and low base Republican turnout. Blue state Democrats should be incredibly cognizant of whether they are helping or hurting Jones’ chances. But those national Republicans who have largely remained distant thus far, here is your chance to make the argument to your fellow conservatives that Roy Moore does not align with your beliefs. Soft condemnations may land well, but elections are won with votes, not press releases.