Republicans Have a Serious Problem and It's Not Just Roy Moore
The Republican Party is broken.
Republicans are running from Roy Moore like he's on fire. Several women recently alleged that, while in his thirties and while they were teenagers, he made sexual advances and, on one occasion, initiated a sexual encounter. I want to be clear. This is awful. But I have a serious question.
Why on earth would Roy Moore drop out of the race for the Alabama Senate seat?
Roy Moore has a history of violating his mandate as a judge and rank bigotry against LGBTQ people and muslims. But when he won his primary campaign, the Republican Party gave him the thumbs up. The party apparatus got behind him, very few elected Republicans spoke out against his particularly toxic bigotry, and many Republicans including Vice President Pence and Senators Ted Cruz, John Cornyn, Tom Coburn, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul endorsed or voiced support for Moore. This is after Moore attributed the 9/11 terror attacks to the country's sin, particularly its "legalization of sodomy." This is after Moore said explicitly that Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison should be barred from serving in Congress because he is a Muslim.
Is this what the party wants me to know that it stands for?
Donald Trump espoused bigoted and anti-democratic views for years and drew the ire of Republicans for the entirety of his campaign, but slowly and surely, Republicans supported him as their nominee once the primary ended. Trump had a similar moment almost exactly a month before his own election after a tape became public wherein he bragged and joked about sexual assault and numerous women came forward and alleged harassment or abuse.
Republicans ran from Donald Trump like he was on fire. Then they trickled back. The election came, Trump had modest support among elected Republicans, and Trump won.
More to the point, he won 62.9% of the popular vote in the state of Alabama.
Why on earth would Roy Moore drop out now?
Congressional Republicans and conservative media have created an environment where it's okay to be derelict in your duties as a state judge multiple times, be alleged to have harassed or assaulted girls (not even women this time, girls), state in public that a man should be barred from public service because of his religion, and state that not only is homosexuality a possible magnet for terrorism and catastrophe but that it should be illegal. It's okay to be an avowed bigot and misogynist as long as you're on the right side of tax cuts. It's okay as long as you make the right enemies and drive the establishment suits crazy.
Republicans have zero power in this situation. By not making allegations like this a deal-breaker – by signaling multiple times that his sort of virulent bigotry is fine – they've created an environment where the most despicable candidate can defy them and win by virtue of the "R" beside his name. Roy Moore will quite possibly stay in the race. He very well may win. It's abhorrent and it's a crisis of their own making. I'm not sure how they fix it. I'm not sure they can.