Choosing criminal behavior over a legal right.
Driving into work on a snowy December 12, 2017, I heard an Alabama voter interviewed on NPR lament that he felt compelled to vote for Roy Moore. Although he said that his wife had decided to refrain from voting, he an evangelical Christian, said: “What choice do I have?” He was speaking about his decision to cast his vote for Roy Moore in Alabama’s special election, but he later admitted to having the same thoughts when casting his vote for Donald J. Trump.
For many white, evangelical Christian voters abolishing abortion is more important than voting for candidates with integrity. Roy Moore is pro-life, Doug Jones is pro-choice. For them, it is the only issue that decides the ballot.
Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, the year of my birth. I have never experienced a time when abortion was illegal; when coat hangers were the only choice “naughty” girls had. However, I have heard Roe v. Wade be an issue in almost every political discussion of candidates during my voting life.
Flash forward forty years and women’s bodies are still not their own. We can be groped, attacked, and violated in countless ways, but when we must face the consequences of the sexual act some people in this country still consider us murderesses. Even though the frequency of unwanted pregnancy and the rate of abortion is dramatically low, voters like the interviewee in Alabama would rather vote for a candidate that has sexually assaulted women than for one who respects a woman’s right to choose. Although they feel “bad” about their decision, voters like the these interviewed, see the issue in only black and white. If a candidate is pro-life, they win these people’s support. NO MATTER WHAT.
And, when women, like Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, call out lecherous men, like the President of the United States, he responds with sexual innuendo:
Trump claims that Senator Kirsten Gillibrand would do anything for campaign contributions. Trump’s tweet is an example of the harassment and gaslighting that women have experienced in their families, in their professions, and in politics. The president’s own remarks about what liberties men in power can take with women are not fake news. His views about where powerful men can grab women have been recorded. There is historical evidence that the 45th president of the United States stated that sexual assault of women is acceptable. And yet, he won the presidency. And yet. And yet. And yet.
But, you say, Trump said those things when he was not the president. You might also argue that Roy Moore did those “sinful” things when he was younger and not a Senator from Alabama. You might declare that Moore and Trump are now different men.
More importantly, forty years have passed since Roe v. Wade. It is the 21st Century. Let’s act like it, white people of America. Abortion is legal. You and I still have our fucking guns (the Second Amendment still exists). Voting for Roy Moore will not make abortion go away. Voting for Doug Jones will not lead to the government taking your guns away.
This video illuminates the hearts and minds of a large number of white, evangelical voters in Alabama (and I fear across the country):
According to CNN exit polls from the Alabama Senate election, there was a clear separation in identity between Jones and Moore’s supporters:
However, Doug Jones won! The people of Alabama did have options. His victory, albeit narrow, is a win for the advancement of the United States. Jones’ achievement helps me look my twelve-year-old daughter in the eye. Alabama’s decision allows me to teach social studies to adolescents more optimistically. I am no longer lying when I tell my students that although our system has problems, the positives outweigh the negatives.
Thank you, Alabama. Thank you for deciding that you did have a choice.