“Elect Moore and support the Senate not giving him a seat.” So says Tully Borland in a recent article for The Federalist, arguing that Alabamans can vote for Senate candidate Roy Moore with a clear conscience, even if he’s guilty of both sexually pursing and assaulting teenagers while in his thirties.
On the surface, this is an understandable attempt to marry conviction with pragmatism. Third parties and write-in candidates don’t win elections. Either Moore or Doug Jones, his opponent, will be the victor on December 12.
Moore is, Borland half-hypothetically concedes, a child molester. Jones is a staunch disciple of the abortion cult, recently reaffirming his support for legalized abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. For those committed to protecting both teenagers and unborn children, neither man is fit for office and the best way to deny both the Senate seat is to elect the one whose party is most likely not to seat him.
As far as “vote for the sex offender” arguments go, that’s not a bad one. Or, at least, it wouldn’t have been if Borland hadn’t said the following: “None of this means that one must embrace Moore…or defend pre-marital sex, or the practice of older men dating teenagers, or attempted rape, and the like. Moreover, one can condemn such actions while still voting for a candidate.”
“If elected, Moore would join the ranks of other undignified politicians who have been liars and fornicators.” “Furthermore, there is no reason to think that Moore, as an old, married man, is still trying to have sex with teens.”
“All voting is voting for the lesser of two evils, and it’s almost never wrong to vote for the lesser of the two. There are no perfect candidates. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, sometimes bigly.”
In other words, “attempted child-rape is bad but not ‘unworthy of my vote’ bad, more like ‘typical lying and cheating politicians’ bad. Plus Moore has probably gotten it out of his system by now. So sure, cross your fingers and hope the Senate doesn’t seat him, but if they do, be at peace, knowing how honorable you were for giving him your vote instead of the guy who was worse.”
Sometimes There Is No Good Choice
Here we see the morally and logically corrosive effects of tribalism. Because the tribalist perpetually sees the other side as his enemy, the tribalist always sees himself as the hero. Therefore, whatever he does to oppose his enemy, even embracing evil, is heroic. As long as he can make a half-convincing argument that his evil is not as evil as the evil of the evil people, he has justified himself—hence Boreland’s attempt to downplay the wickedness of Moore’s conceded sins.
For those with a functional moral compass, choosing between the lesser of two evils is understandable but still regrettable. For the tribalist, it’s brave and virtuous. Lesser warriors may not have the guts to get dirty. But blessed is the man who hinders his opposition by diving into the (slightly shallower) pit of putrescence. He shall always come out clean.
The great problem with this mindset, at least with regard to governmental elections, is that we are not innocent protagonists who have woken up in a Thunderdome-inspired hellscape of someone else’s making. We are not fighting through moral quandaries that have been unfairly foisted upon us. In the United States, we are the government.
We are the ones responsible for the names on the ballot. We are the ones producing those who seek to represent us. If there is nary an upright candidate to elect, we have only ourselves to blame. Even if our side is the lesser of two evils, we are still responsible for creating that evil.
It is odiously hypocritical to throw stones at those who won’t get their hands dirty while refusing to acknowledge who made the dirt. Yet this is precisely what Borland does when he accuses “virtue signaling Republicans” like David French of “being more concerned about their own appearance than the seriousness of abortion” while acting as though the tribe didn’t exist until five seconds after its morally corrupt candidate magically imposed himself upon his part.
But Moore didn’t magically fall out of a “Law and Order: SVU” episode onto the Alabama ballot. The tribe chose him. Yes, the tribe chose him before these accusations became public. But if one concedes that Moore is guilty, as Borland does, then the tribe is still to blame because it fostered a culture where, for several decades, no women felt safe coming forward and where a predator could stalk his prey with impunity.
Likewise, whatever credit the tribe might have gained for being initially unaware of Moore’s sins, they lost it when they got behind their new culture war captain instead of mutinying against him with all their might after learning of his transgressions.
This Is a Shameful Pass to Come To
Borland wants us to believe that, when we must choose between the lesser of two political evils, this is proof that we are soldiers. He’s wrong. It’s proof that we are sinners—workers of iniquity who tried to defeat the godless by embracing their tactics but who only succeeded in warring against our God. Before we ask our fellow tribesmen to help us elect the supposedly slightly less terrible candidate, we first should ask Christ to forgive us for our part in creating the filth—a prayer God will, of course, always answer.
I respect the idea that Alabamans can vote for Moore with a clear conscience if they genuinely conclude that he’s innocent, even while I believe that conclusion is certainly worth its own debate. However, I cannot respect the argument that Alabamans are equally free of guilt if they believe the Republican candidate is guilty of these crimes and sins but worthy of their vote regardless.
I tend to believe that we are never obligated to vote for a conscience-nauseating candidate, but I am genuinely open to persuasion. Perhaps Borland is right that Alabama’s Republicans need to lick their wounds and get behind their morally corrupt candidate for the sake of the unborn, their state, and their country. But he’s absolutely wrong to suggest that they can do so without guilt or shame.
Whenever we have to choose the evil we created, lesser or otherwise, we shouldn’t walk tall and praise ourselves for our bravery on our way of out of the polling station. Rather, we should fall to our knees and beg God for mercy.