Opinion

Renée Graham

Will white women send accused child molester to the US Senate?

US Senate candidate Roy Moore spoke last week at a campaign rally in Dora, Ala.
Brynn Anderson/Associated Press
US Senate candidate Roy Moore spoke last week at a campaign rally in Dora, Ala.

White women helped put an accused sexual predator in the White House. Now they could send an accused child molester to the US Senate.

According to a recent Washington Post-Schar School poll, nearly 60 percent of white women in Alabama say they will probably vote for Republican Roy Moore in next week’s special election. This, despite the fact that numerous women have accused Moore of sexual misconduct dating back decades, one when she was only 14 years old.

Moore already had this support before the Republican National Committee again threw its money behind him, before President Trump officially endorsed him and reportedly said, “Go get ’em, Roy.” Given what’s been said about Moore in recent weeks, perhaps Trump should be more specific about exactly who he is encouraging Moore to get.

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Among white women, Moore leads his Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, 50-to-38 percent. Overall, Jones holds a slight 50-to-47 percent lead, at least in this poll. That means, even after weeks of serious allegations against Moore, this crucial race with national implications is still too close to call.

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It shouldn’t be. Jones is a former US attorney who brought to justice two Klansmen for the 1963 Birmingham church bombing that killed four African-American girls. Meanwhile, Moore is a twice-removed former Alabama chief justice once banned from a small-town mall for pestering teenage girls.

Yet in deep-red Alabama, where a Democrat hasn’t won a major statewide race in more than a decade, a majority of white women find voting for an accused child molester less repulsive than voting for a Democrat.

If this feels like a horror show rerun, it is. Last fall, 53 percent of white women voted for a former reality-show barker over a former senator and secretary of state. In all those dreary election post-mortems, many wondered why so many white women would choose the most unqualified presidential nominee in American history instead of the most qualified presidential nominee in American history, the first woman chosen a major-party presidential nominee.

In her own campaign autopsy, Hillary Clinton came up with one theory. Speaking “principally about white women,” she said, they were “under tremendous pressure from fathers and husbands and boyfriends and male employers not to vote for ‘the girl.’ ”

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At a September conference, former first lady Michelle Obama was even more succinct: “Any woman who voted against Hillary Clinton voted against their own voice.” Of course, the conservative white women who voted for Trump and support Moore don’t see it that way. Like Trump, Moore is their voice, and he speaks in a language they understand.

Certainly this is an archaic language that champions division and oppression. It hews closer to the Bible than the Constitution among those who see democracy as a threat and theocracy as salvation. That’s why Moore has so many campaign events in evangelical churches. These women judge as he judges, standing against reproductive rights, the LGBT community, and social progress. It’s a desperate grasp for an America made “great” again for the few, not for the majority, nor especially those who refuse to have their hard-won rights ripped away.

These are women who take comfort in official White House photo ops featuring a roomful of white men discussing health care. It’s also second nature for them not to believe other women — especially when Republican men are accused — rather than recognize that sexual misconduct is pervasive in every corner of American life.

Getting Moore into the Senate is the only reckoning that concerns these women. After voting for Trump as president, it makes terrible sense that they could choose to put another alleged, but politically aligned, sexual predator in Washington.

Renée Graham can be reached at renee.graham@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @reneeygraham.