In every election, coalitions eventually emerge. Forces united by nature or necessity around a particular leader, to achieve a particular goal.
In Alabama’s special election, these coalitions seemed rather easy to identify. The Republican, Roy Moore, who would work to advance a conservative agenda, including the protection of life. Versus the Democrat, Doug Jones, who would work to advance a liberal agenda, while advocating for abortion all the way up until birth.
Yet, when we look further, we see that one of these candidates has a more precarious balancing act to perform, when it comes to maintaining his coalition.
Doug Jones has to have the overwhelming share of Alabama’s Democrat-leaning African American vote in order to win. However, demographics being what they are, he must also win a large share of the state’s white vote in order to be victorious. Meaning Jones must straddle a line where, he’s liberal enough to win as many black votes as possible. While not straying too far to the left, so that he can still appeal to a significant number of whites.
This dichotomy was on full display when Jones tweeted about the NFL anthem protests, last month. On September 26th, Jones sent this tweet, only vaguely referencing the NFL anthem protests:
For the rest of the week let's focus on unity in sports rather than division. Support our wounded warriors competing in #InvictusGames2017
— Doug Jones (@DougJones) September 26, 2017
In that tweet, Jones clearly attempts to dodge an issue which he knows will harm his standing with white voters if he comes off as being too supportive of the players. However, because Jones needs to get nearly every African American Democrat vote in Alabama to win, look at what Jones said in a response to himself just over three hours later:
I want to be crystal clear here, I support the right to protest, & freedom of expression. #TakeAKnee focuses on inequality & injustice.
— Doug Jones (@DougJones) September 26, 2017
From these tweets, the only thing seems clear is that Doug Jones first tries to hide what he believes. Then, when challenged, as he was on Twitter by his supporters, about three hours later he says what he actually believes.
The irony of Jones running for Senate while supporting anthem protesters can’t be ignored either. After all, it was in Alabama that President Trump called out NFL players who protested the anthem. Making it a political no-brainer for Jones to cast himself as the anti-Trump, protest-embracing candidate that he truly is.
Yet, he can’t do that, lest he scare off too many whites.
The anthem issue poses problems for politicians who want to mean what they say, but can’t, because they’re not allowed to say what they mean. Specifically, because there’s no grey area with the anthem protests. You’re either standing with hands at your side, or over your heart. Or, you’re engaging in some form of protest. A simplistic display that robs them of the nuance they crave.
Jones is not only out-of-step with the mainstream of his own state when it comes to anthem protests. He’s also off on his own when it comes to abortion.
In a recent interview on Meet the Press Daily, Jones was asked if he would support a 20-week abortion ban. Jones said, “I’m not in favor of anything that is going to infringe on a woman’s right in her freedom to choose. That’s just the position that I’ve had for many years. It’s the position that I continue to have.
“But when those people ― I want to make sure people understand, that once a baby is born, I’m going to be there for that child, That’s where I become a right-to-lifer.”
Here again, Jones uses relatively benign sounding pro-abortion talking points. In this case, by referencing his desire to not infringe on a “woman’s right to choose.” Just before he reveals who he really is, by identifying himself with the extreme positions of the radical left.
Moreover, he shows just how out-of-touch he is with Alabamians.
Alabama’s legislature recently passed, decisively, a measure which would declare that the state recognize no right to an abortion. That measure passed 67-14 in the House, and 25-7 in the Senate. It’s highly doubtful that Alabama’s politicians are so tone-deaf that they would pass a piece of legislation, with those types of majorities, if they felt the people would react poorly to it.
Where does exactly does Doug Jones’ abortion until birth agenda fit into that? Where does his support for the wildly unpopular anthem protest, fit into anything?
More importantly, given that issues like the anthem protests aren’t going away and he will have to eventually choose a side, when will he? The special election is December 12th, at some point between now and then, Jones will be asked for his definitive position on the protests. Perhaps he’ll be asked by Roy Moore himself.
But what will he say? Will he reply with some artful dodge, the same way he attempted to on Twitter? Trying to skirt the issue by saying he supports the right to protest, but makes no actual comment on the protests themselves?
If he supports anthem protesters and the cause which compels them to kneel, will he ever stand and definitively say so?
We likely won’t have to wait long to find out.