Judge Roy Moore is a friend of mine. He's arguably the finest, most principled man I've ever met in politics. While other so-called conservatives stood on the sidelines or sat on their hands, he's put it all on the line for our principles — twice — at the cost of his own career.
That kind of courage of conviction is lacking in today's clickservatism. Therefore, I'm not surprised it's not just the liberal media misreading what happened Tuesday night in Alabama's U.S. Senate runoff, but many in the "conservative media" as well.
So as someone who actually knows the judge, as well as his campaign, I decided to clarify a few things.
1) This was a Judge Roy Moore win, not a Mitch McConnell loss.
Candidates win elections, not ideas or grievances. Ideas and grievances can shape an environment, but the right candidate is still required to take advantage of that environment. Though many on the Right and Left are trying to peg Judge Roy Moore as a vehicle for anti-establishment angst and chicanery, that doesn't come close to telling the full story. Judge Roy Moore is not an insurgent candidate.
He was not a neophyte. He previously won statewide in Alabama — twice — the prestigious office of chief justice of the state supreme court. He was the best known and most respected candidate in the race. His record of principled activism at the cost of his own career has made him a hero to Alabama conservatives.
Therefore, he's not the alt-right caricature currently being peddled by those threatened by him. Quite the contrary; Moore has spent his life dedicated to the bedrock conservative principles of faith, family, and (then) freedom that many of the decadent and profane alt-righters vehemently despise.
Judge Roy Moore is the very conservative your atheist college professor warned you about. It's Moore's brand as the antithesis of what McConnell's ilk stands for that won day.
2) The disdain for McConnell, the face of the Swamp, absolutely added to the magnitude of the victory.
While Judge Roy Moore won the race, there is no denying that the outright biblical-level loathing for McConnell and D.C. Republicans as a whole drove the massive margin he won by. Moore was outspent almost 25 to 1 in this race and yet won by double digits. In the annals of American politics, how often has any candidate been able to overcome such a chasm-sized resource disadvantage to win in such dominant fashion? That pure hatred for the Swamp more than erased whatever advantage McConnell's money could previously buy. And Moore's campaign gets credit here, too, for its people did something not even Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul did in their upstart victories when they ran. Moore openly ran against McConnell by name and pulled no punches — which turned McConnell's money to Moore's advantage instead.
3) Good guys do finish first.
The last few years of American politics haven't exactly been inspiring. Yet here is Judge Roy Moore, the man many of the so-called "smart set" kicked to the curb and stabbed in the back for more than a decade as he stood up to judicial tyranny, likely on his way to winning a seat in the U.S. Senate in the general election in December. And Moore did it without compromising a single thing. He not only did nothing to cozy up to this wretched system, but rebuked it at every turn. People who previously turned on Moore when he was fighting for righteousness are now suddenly jumping on his bandwagon. It's like watching Matthew 25:23 come to life. Because Moore has been faithful in a few things, he's now being given the chance to be faithful in even more. May others see his example and choose to follow it.
4) Name ID matters most.
A friend of mine came to me in the lead-up to the primary and asked why Judge Roy Moore instead of Mo Brooks. While Roy is my friend, I have nothing but respect for Mo's work in the House. So my personal preference here wasn't why I suggested he back Moore. It's because, having been involved in primary challenges before, I knew the blitzkrieg McConnell would unleash. And if our primary challengers lack the name ID to withstand the lies and distortions dumped on the airwaves by McConnell, they will be toppled by them.
Because Moore had won statewide twice, he had a substantial name ID advantage over Mo Brooks. And we saw that play out in the initial primary, when Brooks was done in by McConnell's misleadings, but Moore could withstand them since voters already knew him. The lesson here, for those seeking to oust more Swamp creatures in upcoming primaries, is that if the candidate lacks name ID, it probably doesn't matter how principled he is — he’s toast.
That name ID went a long way toward Moore not only beating an incumbent senator in a primary, which is a rare feat by itself, but also overcoming a sitting president's endorsement against him. Which brings me to my final point...
5) "Better than Hillary" isn't a suicide pact.
It's impossible to avoid noticing that everything and everyone attached to President Trump's base supported Judge Roy Moore, except for President Trump himself.
Trump went all in for Luther Strange: tweeting for him several times, holding a rally for him just days before the vote, and then sending Vice President Pence as a follow-up. And yet, there were Sarah Palin, Steve Bannon, Sean Hannity, and others going to Alabama to campaign for Judge Roy Moore and/or endorsing him.
This confirms that "better than Hillary" is not a suicide pact. And though the cultic element within Trump's core support is troublesome and impossible to ignore, it turns out Trump's base is driving Trump — it's not Trump driving his base. In fact, Strange actually under-performed his polling following Trump's campaign visit — there was no Trump bounce at all.
If the president wants to avoid further embarrassment, he better start surrounding himself with conservatives in the West Wing — pronto — who actually have a read on what's happening with his base. Because someone has wrongly told Trump his base is the stereotype often sold on cable news or willing to do whatever he asks of them.
Turns out that's fake news.