Stephen K. Bannon and his alt-right activity have assisted achieve something no one in a quarter-century has been capable to do: get a Democrat elected in the state of Alabama.
Alabama is one of the most accurately Republican states in the nation. The last time a Democrat was elected was in 1992, and no Democrat has won more than 40 % of the vote in a Senate race there since 1996. The closest election in new memory was in 2002, when Jeff Sessions won re-election by a razor-thin margin of 19 points. Sen. Richard Shelby has won his last three elections by 35 points, 30 points and 28 points, appropriately. So it takes a special type of stupid to pick a candidate who can lose to a Democrat in Alabama.
Not just any Democrat, but a determined pro-abortion Democrat. Alabama is one of the most pro-life states in the union. According to the Pew Research Center, 58 % of Alabama voters trust that miscarriage should be banned in all or most cases, while only 37 % disagree. And yet the Democrats won with a pro-abortion radical on the ballot. How extreme? In September, “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd asked Jones what limitations he would support on abortion. He could not name one. “I am a firm believer that a woman should have the freedom to select what happens to her own body,” he said, “and I’m going to stand up for that and I’m going to make assured that that continues to happen.” When pressed if he would support a ban on late-term abortions after 20 weeks, Jones said, “I’m not in assistance of everything that is going to infringe on a woman’s right and her freedom to select,” adding that he supports the right to life “once a baby is born. . . . That’s where I become a right-to-lifer.”
Yet despite these profound views, Jones won in pro-life Alabama. Why? Because Bannon and his allies forced Alabamians to select between a pro-abortion Democrat and a stated sex predator. Bannon assisted nominate a man who was credibly blamed of pursuing and sexually accosting teenage girls — and then stood by him when his loathsome stated conduct was exposed. Bannon counted on doubt of the mainstream media and conservative voters’ repulsion at the Democrats’ pro-abortion views to put his man over the top. It didn’t work. Because while the state’s evangelical Christian majority is appalled by abortion, they are also appalled by developed men who prey on high-school girls.
Now Bannon needs to depict his disastrous Alabama approach in Republican primaries across the country. He has announced that he is searching Moore-like challengers to take on every GOP necessary except Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.). Bannon is busy taking the GOP back to the greatness days of 2010, when Republicans nominated such terrible Senate candidates that they lost very winnable senate races in places such as Delaware and Nevada — losing the chance to retake control of the Senate. The difference is, back then; the stakes were not so high. Barack Obama was president, and unless Republicans could win 60 votes, a few more GOP Senate seats would have made small difference.
But today, a few GOP Senate seats can create all the variation, because Republicans control the House, the Senate and the White House. President Trump was already struggling to get his agenda passed with a narrow 52-seat GOP Senate majority. Thanks to Bannon, that majority has been whittled down to 51. That creates it harder for Trump to advance any of his remaining agenda next year and perplexes his ability to confirm judges and get other nominees through the Senate.
Jones’s victory also put the Democrats within dazzling distance of taking back control of the Senate in 2018. If that happens, the Trump presidency is over. The “resistance” will control Congress, and Trump’s capability to pass timid legislation and go on appointing conservative judges — especially another Supreme Court justice — will be gone. Moreover, Democrats will run the Russia investigation and Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), as majority leader, will have unchecked subpoena power. Trump could face allegation proceedings.
That is the future if Trump does not learn the lesson of Alabama and tell Bannon to back off. The aim in 2018 should be to grow Trump’s governing majority, not lose it. Instead of targeting exposed Democrats and strengthening the Trump presidency, Bannon is busy destroying the Trump presidency. Trump may want to advise he stop.