Donald Trump has been flagged. An election in one of the 50 states in America would scarcely have been of much moment were it not for the huge stakes involved in the diehard Republican state of Alabama. The Democrat, Doug Jones, has defeated his Republican opponent, Roy Moore, who was backed by President Trump. The ruling party has suffered a major setback in its bastion, and it is hard not to wonder whether the outcome mirrors the general disenchantment in USA today close to a year after Trump has been at the helm. Jones’s victory in a special election for a US Senate seat is a major personal setback for the President and his efforts to pass the tax reform bill.
Indeed, he is the first Democrat in a decade to win any statewide office in Alabama by beating Moore, who had faced multiple allegations of sexual assault during a campaign which exposed the Republican party’s shortcomings. Not surprisingly, Moore has denied the allegations; but there is little doubt that he has been ticked off by voters for his misdemeanours. The result is no less a reflection of the racial divide that has roiled America from one Presidency to another. Jones won 95 per cent of the Afro-American vote but only 27 per cent of the white vote in Yellowhammer. As it turned out, the massive Afro-American turnout on Jones’s behalf neutralised the margin that Moore had secured in the rural, predominantly white segments of Alabama.
Indeed, the racist construct was highlighted in Jones’s immediate response ~ “I have always believed that the people of Alabama had more in common than what would divide us. The election had never been either about Moore or me. This entire contest has been about dignity and respect. This campaign has been about the rule of law. This campaign has been about common courtesy and decency and making sure everyone in this state, regardless of what zip code you live in, is going to get a fair treatment.” The values thus underlined have been accorded a minor rating in Mr Trump’s America. Small wonder Mr Jones’s ten-minute address to the electorate was greeted with eloquent chants of “USA! USA!”
The implications are profound both in terms of Mr Trump’s presidency and the racist factor, the second as disruptive as it is mortal. The Democratic victory will reduce the Republican majority in the Senate to 51-49. This numerical change is significant as it reduces the margin for error at a crucial juncture ~ specifically when Republicans are attempting to push through a major corporate tax cut. The party is already contending with the defection of Senator Bob Corker. The legislation will come a cropper should another Republican break ranks. Moore’s defeat also signifies a major personal blow to Trump, who had endorsed the Alabama Republican at a recent rally.