Roy Moore is a bigot, a homophobe, a conspiracy theorist, and a former judge who puts the Bible on a higher legal plane than the Constitution — and after winning a Republican Senate primary Tuesday night he will almost certainly be the next US senator from Alabama.
Moore’s long history of incendiary, divisive, and hateful rhetoric — as well as lawless behavior — is well-documented.
He has, for example, said that homosexuality should be illegal, and he’s equated it with bestiality. He called “homosexual behavior . . . a crime against nature, an inherent evil, and an act so heinous that it defies one’s ability to describe it.” This came in a court ruling in which he granted child custody to an abusive father rather than a mother who was a lesbian.
He has blamed 9/11, and many of the nation’s ills, on the removal of religion from public life.
But not all religions. Moore has labeled Islam a “fake religion,” and he called for Democratic US Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota to be barred from serving in the House because he’s a Muslim. In recent days, he even suggested — falsely — that communities in Indiana and Illinois are living under Sharia law.
Of course, he is also a birther who continues to question whether Barack Obama was born in the United States.
Amazingly, Moore’s track record of bigotry and intolerance is only one part of what makes him so uniquely unqualified to be a senator.
Nearly as concerning is Moore’s repeated contempt for the rule of law as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.
Indeed, Moore’s rise to national prominence came more than a decade ago, when he installed a more than 5,000 pound sculpture of the Ten Commandments outside the Alabama Judicial Building and then refused to remove it after being ordered by a federal court to do so. Moore’s defiance led the Alabama Court of the Judiciary to remove him from the court.
But 10 years later, Moore ran for the chief justice position again, and Alabama voters returned him to office. Sure enough, he quickly thumbed his nose at the federal judiciary again; this time ordering probate judges in Alabama to defy the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same sex marriage. In its decision suspending Moore from office yet again, the Court of the Judiciary found him guilty of failing to comply with the law.
It’s hard to imagine a candidate more clearly unfit for federal office than one who continually and flagrantly refuses to abide by the federal judiciary.
Quite simply, it’s hard to find a candidate more clearly unfit for federal office than Roy Moore.
Yet, one will be hard-pressed to find a single Republican who will be willing to speak out against Moore between now and the Alabama special Senate election in December.
The same Republican politicians who a month ago sonorously criticized white supremacists and decried divisive racist attitudes — and who regularly and roundly criticize “activist liberal judges” for legislating from the bench — are likely to hold their powder on Moore, even though many, including President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, endorsed his primary opponent, Luther Strange.
Criticizing neo-Nazis is easy, but getting on the wrong side of Republican voters and putting a Senate seat at risk is a bridge too far.
Make no mistake: this is how we got Donald Trump in the White House. Rather than speak out against the open intolerance and bigotry that has found a comfortable home within the Republican Party, GOP officeholders have winked and nodded at the Roy Moores of the world — and his supporters. They’ve indulged their conspiracy theories; they’ve regurgitated their pieties; they’ve overlooked their egregious and racist statements; and they’ve fed their paranoia and suspicion of “coastal elites,” all for the short-term goal of getting their votes on Election Day.
Rather than excising bigotry and extremism, they’ve sat back and remained silent as it’s metastasized within the Republican Party. On a daily basis Republicans are seeing first-hand the political consequences of this strategy, namely Trump’s daily and dangerous stoking of the nation’s racial and cultural divisions. In effect, they’ve created the monster that Moore and, in turn, Trump represents.
Will a once proud political party remain too weak and too cowardly to stand up to what are literally the worst, most divisive elements of American society? If Republicans can’t speak out against someone as clearly unqualified for national office as Moore, will they ever take a stand? We will find out in the coming weeks, but if the past few years are any indication, there is little reason for optimism.Michael A. Cohen’s column appears regularly in the Globe. Follow him on Twitter @speechboy71.