Reason, fear and the politics of hysteria

By John J. Hopkins | Dec 26, 2017

The election for the U.S. Senate seat in Alabama is now history. Democrat Doug Jones narrowly defeated Republican Roy Moore by a margin of 2 percent, the exact amount of write-in votes filed on behalf of alternative GOP candidates. While the results may have been surprising to some, it certainly is not an omen for the future, but more of aberration.

The election for the U.S. Senate seat in Alabama is now history. Democrat Doug Jones narrowly defeated Republican Roy Moore by a margin of 2 percent, the exact amount of write-in votes filed on behalf of alternative GOP candidates. While the results may have been surprising to some, it certainly is not an omen for the future, but more of aberration.  

The Republican should have won easily in deep red Alabama, as Republicans have done since the late 1980s. Instead, a liberal Democrat – is there another kind – is the new Senator. The outcome was much more of a rejection of Moore than an embrace of Jones. Politics without rules, without restraint, without reason. The result defies analysis, unless the absence of integrity is listed as the root cause.

As former President Obama used to like to say, let us be clear. (Yes, Hopkins quoting Obama) Judge Moore was a lousy candidate for the Senate. His problems were not his fundamentalist Christian views, as that remains a plus. No, he was temperamentally unsuited to be a legislator. His inability to divorce his religious beliefs from his role in the Judiciary caused to be repeatedly sanctioned by the Alabama authorities. By rejecting duties under the law, he proceeded to bit-by-bit break down the necessary wall between Church and State. Such is unacceptable. His conduct with regards the removal of the Ten Commandments, his refusal to allow the Clerks of the State to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples duly married under Alabama law were but some of the offenses. But that was not his major deficiency, nor was that the explanation of the loss.  

As a long time judge, and then multiple stints on the Supreme Court – twice as Chief Justice - Moore developed a keen sense of the proper approach to matters civic. Compromise was unwanted and unnecessary. After such a long time on the Bench, the mold was cast in iron. Unfortunately, the coin of the realm for legislators was and will be the art of compromise. This would be alien to someone of Judge Moore’s background, rendering him likely to be ineffective for his constituents. In short, judges usually make bad politicians – and vice versa. But again, this was not the fatal blow. Roy Moore lost the Senate race in Alabama because he was the victim of slander most foul, the path of political correctness gone amuck.   

At the 11th hour in the campaign, allegations of sexual abuse of minors, some 40 years old, were smeared on to the debate. This act of desperation worked. Despite the absence of forensic proof, despite the long passage of time in silence by the accusers, despite Judge Moore appearing on the ballot state wide on FOUR prior occasions, thereby giving ample chance to anyone with a legitimate complaint to step forward, the kamikaze attacks worked.  Unproven, undocumented, unwarranted. But in the atmosphere of hysteria that now exists, accepted as fact. No matter what you think of Roy Moore, he deserved better. It is his birthright as an American. Nothing but shame can follow the purveyors of such pretense and delusion.  

Perhaps the only positive from the Alabama election was the reduction in the toxic effect of Steve Bannon. Without him, the President’s choice – current interim Senator Luther Strange - would have been elected in his own right. No troubles. As time goes forward, the influence of Bannon will surely and thankfully diminish to extinction. But the more disturbing aspect of the attack on Judge Moore needs attention.    

Allegations are not facts. In America, we hold preciously dear the presumption of INNOCENCE. Its unique role disistiquishes the American system of justice.  Any attack on its sacred function must be thwarted, no matter who the alleged victim, no matter who the alleged perpetrator.

I am the father of one lovely lady, the grandfather of four more, and have a wife of 40 years, all of whom I love with all my heart. Any one in any capacity doing anything to hurt them in any way would prompt a need for revenge without mercy or restraint. That is the family way. But I am also a father of two men, the grandfather of two young boys and businessmen in Alton. If any accusation were to be made against any, no matter how “credible,” others might think it to be, I would hope the system protects. As a lawyer, I must believe that to be true. Justice demands reason, not hysteria. We have had “witch hunts” in this country in the past.  Lives ruined by false accusations, presented with emotions, not facts.    

Google “Duke Lacrosse team” or “Rolling Stone – Virginia Tech article” for contemporary evidence. We need to learn from the past, not repeat the same mistakes. Only the voice of reason can save the essence of a free society from the tyranny of the mob. Those with courage must stand and be counted. Be not afraid.

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