An Open Letter to Alabama...
Conservatives and, Really, All of Us
Dear Alabama, et al,
I am writing to you today to say that it's time for some basic agreements that we all need to come together and find common ground around. We all are aware of the bitter divisions that separate this country, but just as surely, when push comes to shove, we are also aware of the love that we have as family, as neighbors, as community and fellow citizens that unite us. We are aware, and need to be reminded to stay aware of this reality:
That those things which unite us are greater than those things that divide us.
I was raised as an extremely conservative, traditional Southern Baptist boy and I am who I am today because of (and not, in spite of) my wonderful, conservative Christian parents, Sunday School teachers (love you, Miss Marie, wherever you are! You, too, Dalton! And etc, etc...), youth group leaders, pastors and friends and family who surrounded me and helped raise me. I love my God just as strongly now as I did then, thanks to you. I strive to love my neighbor now as you taught me to back then. And although my understanding and approach to it are different now, I still love and read the Bible now, just as you taught me.
In the church I attend now, we welcome, work with and alongside all sorts of people, including the homeless and mentally ill we have in our urban neighborhood. Occasionally - rarely - that means that a service might be a little disrupted. One Wednesday evening, while having our community supper, we had a gentleman who was getting too loud and abusive and we politely but firmly asked him to leave. One of our strong women leaders walked him to the door as he put on his coat and stepped out into the cold, yelling and protesting all the way. After closing the door, the man continued to yell from outside. He just stood there, looking in through the window in the door and yelling at the woman who escorted him out. She stood her ground and just kept insisting, "No, I'm sorry, you have to go. Just go on and come back sometime when you've calmed down. Go on, now..." like that. Eventually, she stopped and leaned in to listen to what the man was yelling...
"My coat. Is stuck. In the door!"
Sometimes friends, we have to pause and listen.
And so, with that as preface, this former raging-conservative-now-flaming-progressive writes to you, Alabama, along with the rest of us, to make a plea to listen to this call for a few basic decencies where I am confident we all can find common ground...
If faced between what I consider two evils/two wrong/two immoral choices, I cannot and will not choose a "lesser evil."
I totally get that, as conservatives and Republicans, that you probably can't vote for most Democrats with a clean conscience. There are policies that Democrats hold that you just can't agree with and find yourself needing to oppose. I get that. I have that with many conservative Republican policies (although I bet if we dig down, we can find some common ground starting places on many of those policies... but setting that aside for now). I understand not being able to vote for the other party in good conscience. No problem.
At the same time, we have to have lines that we draw. There have to be some basic standards that we hold to. And, IF my candidate... my party's candidate has crossed some of these basic lines, then we must need agree to say, "No. I will not vote for him/her." Period. That isn't to say, "therefore, I'll vote for the other party..." not if that candidate holds positions you can't in good faith vote for. It's just saying that I can not and will not vote for a candidate that crosses certain basic lines.
In my life, in trying to be a good citizen, there have been times where I have "thrown my vote away" and voted for a third party or written in a candidate that I knew couldn't win, just because I could not in good conscience vote for either mainstream candidate. Sometimes, we just have to do this in order to live with ourselves.
And this is my main point...
I'm writing to you today to say that we messed up on that basic drawing of a line last year with Trump. Alabama is considering messing up with Roy Moore. I'm asking for us to not do that. I'm asking for us to draw a line and say, "I will not cross that line."
There were/are many, many problems with candidate Trump and candidate Moore. But perhaps the greatest problem, the most serious line that we should not cross, is the ease with which they make false claims, spread false messages and - whether or not it's their motive/intent - told lies. They make up stuff and do it regularly and with careless abandon. We see this especially with Trump but Moore does it, too. When he says things like, “It is more likely that Doug Jones and Democrat operatives are pulling a political stunt on Twitter and alerting their friends in the media.” ...he is making a serious and, by all evidence, clearly false claim.
He is saying that they many women who now have made these claims are liars. Period.
Let that soak in.
Here we have many women who have independently and, so far as anyone knows, without any influence from the Democrats or "the media," made these allegations. He is saying that they are lying.
But based on what? Why would they make up these stories? What do they have to gain by exposing themselves in this manner?
Look, I fully know that, in some extremely rare circumstances (and if you're not familiar, look at the research - it's a tiny minority), women have made false allegations about harassment/abuse. But these are the extreme minority. And okay, IF you have one allegation made against you by a woman, maybe she's one of this tiny minority that have made false claims. But when you have five... eight (what is Trump up to, now, 20??) women make these charges, and in some instances, where they had told others about it in the past and it's all something that can be verified by several sources... then to say that they are ALL lying begins to strain credulity.
And then, when you add to that charge that these women are liars (a very serious charge!), the claim that the Democrats and/or the media are behind it all, it just becomes clear that these are false claims. Maybe he SUSPECTS that these women were sympathetic enough to the Democrat cause to make false allegations, but you can't just make those sorts of claims without support. Data.
But that reasoning appears to be not apparent to Alabama voters. According to a new poll in Alabama...
...a new CBS News poll found that 71 percent of Alabama Republicans say the sexual misconduct allegations against Republican Roy Moore are false. Many blame Democrats and the media for the allegations.
? Based on what? We can't just make up claims or beliefs without some evidence. That is not intellectually honest and I believe that the good people of Alabama, if they just stop and think about it, can agree to this.
So, again, my point: People who make false claims, especially when they do it regularly and with no support, they are crossing a line that should not be crossed.
Trump did this regularly leading up to the election and that should be a show stopper. Period.
Look, Trump isn't really a conservative or a Republican, he's an opportunist who has supported Democrats in the past. He could just as easily have run as a Democrat. And if he had and if he was making regular, casual false claims as he has been doing, then that would have been a deal breaker for me. It was a line that I could not cross. I would not vote for a casual liar and Trump and Moore are casual liars. They make ridiculous false claims. We can't abide this, friends. This is a line that we should not be crossing.
People of Alabama, I'm asking you to not cross that line now. If you're opposed to Democrat policies, I'm not asking you to vote for a Democrat that you can't support. I'm just asking you to do as I would do, as my parents, no doubt, would have done: Not vote for someone who crosses a line that shouldn't be crossed. Write in a vote. But don't cross that line.
But, if it were just the one line - the making ridiculously false claims repeatedly - that would be bad enough, and it should be! But with Trump and Moore, we have men who, by all the data we have available, are men who've abused, mistreated, oppressed or sexually assaulted or harassed women. In both cases, they did so even with teen aged girls/young women.
This is a basic decency line that cannot be crossed. It is/should be an instant deal breaker.
I don't need to know anything else about the candidate or his opponent if I know he has abused/mistreated women/girls. Period.
I'm not saying that there is enough evidence to convict either man of any crimes, I'm not a legal scholar, but I'm guessing there isn't enough evidence for that. But, just because the data is not sufficient to rise to a level of legal conviction, the evidence is sufficient that they are bad men who have mistreated women. Regularly.
This is a line that should not be crossed. Please, for the sake of our common humanity, do not cross that line.
When the stories about Bill Clinton came out, there were two... then three women. And their stories were not proof positive. There was, I think, reasonable doubt in at least their more serious allegations (murder, rape). Nonetheless, I thought the evidence that Bill Clinton had a problem was sufficient for me to not vote for him. It was a line that I could not cross. In both of his elections, I held my nose and voted for a third party candidate and against Bill Clinton. Conservatives at the time agreed with me... he was a problematic candidate and they loudly said so.
I would not cross that line to vote for Clinton. People of Alabama, the evidence against Trump and, now Moore, is greater than that against Clinton. I'm just asking you to do what you said we should do with Clinton back then and refuse to cross that line. Do not vote for this man. Vote third party or write in a candidate, but do not vote for him.
There are lines that we should not cross.
Be the strong moral and rational sort of conservatives that I remember from my youth. Let there be some candidates on your side that have crossed a line that you will not cross.