A special election for a vacated senatorial seat in the state of Alabama, USA was hotly contested last Tuesday. It was a purely American political bout that attracted international attention, not excluding that of Philippine aficionados. So here we are attempting a spin and a point of view of our own.
In a State that has not elected a Democrat senator in a generation, the Republican candidate was a former Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court, Roy Moore. A far right Republican darling. He was booted out of the State Supreme Court twice for disobeying Federal judicial decisions not to his liking. And well into the campaign stump, Moore was hounded by accusations and allegations of serial serious sexual misconduct. Nonetheless he was mightily endorsed by no less than President Trump augmenting a massive GOP (Republican/Grand Old Party) endorsement and partisan operations.
It was a battle of non-incumbents but in view of Republican dominance in Alabama (a very “red” State!), the Democratic Party candidate was regarded as the contender. He is Douglas “Doug” Jones, also an attorney, a known liberal (“blue”) whose claim to fame is human rights and “an admirable record of public service.”
In 2002, he pursued and prosecuted successfully the last two Ku Klux Klan white supremacists accused of hate crimes and murder in the infamous 1963 “16th St. Church Bombing” in Birmingham, Alabama that claimed the lives of four African American girls.
The just-terminated election was a battle between an “honorable man” who “ran a respectful campaign” against “an accused child molester” possessed of a “misshapen character,” as described by the Washington Post. Nonetheless, in the beginning of the campaign, the voting strength of the local GOP machinery was much touted.
In America’s Deep South, the redneck base of the Republican’s extreme partisanship may be likened to our own “DDS.” That is, Die-hard Duterte Supporters, and not Davao Death Squad. But just the same, almost mindlessly rabid and zealous, no matter what. “Better a sex offender than a Liberal," was a commonly accepted partisan sentiment, noisily postulated by President Trump himself while very visibly campaigning for Moore. The chances of victory for Doug Jones was therefore seen as rather iffy and dim at the very outset.
In the end, it was a cliffhanger! The final bell rang for Doug Jones over Roy Moore. The winning count was by “a nose!” Less than a percentage point. As we write, loser Moore has yet to concede. Now, does that not sound all too familiar—the way Philippine election losers go!
For us in the international spectator galleries, do we discern some Aesopian meaning, some teachable moment from the event we speak of? Is there an “Alabama Moment” in store for the Philippines? I am dreaming of the triumph of decency and rectitude over a well-oiled machinery of malice and chicanery! Incurably romantic as I am, my question really is: “Can the downtrodden and disadvantaged (by fake news and contrived exaggerations) good amongst us vanquish the “bad and ugly” who still seem to thrive and predominate by manipulated ersatz popularity?
This Alabama victory attests to the political reality that when time and clime align, extreme partisanship has limits. In the case of Alabama, that limit was reached when the sordid past of the Republican candidate was revealed beyond argument. The “tipping point” as it were. The unravelling of Roy Moore began just this early November—about a month before the Alabama elections— when the Washington Post reported that when Moore was 32, already a district attorney, he “initiated a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old Leigh Corfman.” To bolster the investigative report, the Post quoted and named three other accusers who were between the ages of 16 and 18 at the time recounted.
In fact, five other women have come up with their own personal stories, all of which happened some 35 to 40 years ago when they were minors (two were in their early 20s) and Roy Moore already a public official in his mid-30s. His favorite stalking venues were the malls. All stories had a common theme of lurid unpleasantness such as groping, kissing, embracing and unwanted indecent proposals.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that a dedicated, vigorous and empowered media performed and delivered this political haymaker. Historic, too! Media in the United States caused the “stars to fall in Alabama” last Tuesday. Prominently, New York Times, TIME Magazine, and most news service agencies were reporting along with all the major TV networks in pursuing and strenghtening Washington Post’s initial thrust.
Is there meaning or a teachable morsel for Philippine politics in the Roy Moore story? Is there a foreseeable “tipping point?” Indeed, one without recourse, without return? Pro Patria, of course!
Perhaps, that eagerly awaited day will come. The courageous and the sagacious in Philippine media, sooner or later, will encounter an equally courageous and sagacious source of unimpeachably damning information, who as we speak, may already be in possession of what will cause our own Alabama moment!
Oh, I almost forgot about “Daisy!”
Let me revive an old joke about Filipino philandering dirty old men and their libidinous tastes for physical contact and companionship. Delectable Daisy! Somewhat of a generic description as in “fresh as a daisy.” Symbolic meaning for childhood, innocence and purity. “Daisy” because the lass is only “daisy-seis,” a playful pun on the Spanish “diez y seis.” Sixteen! Menor de edad. Underage. A minor, for goodness’ sake!
Citing Aesop once more, the moral lesson in our conversation is that without “Daisy,” verily now, the Washington Post would have had nothing to expose. Alabama would have elevated a sexual predator to the otherwise honorable hall of the US Senate, without ever knowing it!
Wait! You know what, that bell seems to ring a rather familiar peal. Don’t our fair islands breed Roy Moores? And elect them?
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.