I knew exactly what I was doing last Tuesday morning when I walked into my Alabama polling place up the street. I had voted in the August primary as a Republican for one reason: I wanted to make my vote against Donald Trump count, and the rules are that you can’t vote in a Republican run-off here unless you voted as a Republican in the primary. This was an election to find a replacement for Jeff Sessions ― a poster child for the Napoleon complex ― who is now Trump’s attorney general. I was never fond of Mr. Session’s actions in the Senate, and I really didn’t like his appointed replacement, Luther Strange, using the term “incumbent” during the campaign. Strange is a go-with-the-flow Republican who would never rock the GOP’s automatically oppressive boat.
Republicans had spent several fortunes trying to advance “Big Luther,” so the airwaves were filled with negative ads against his opponent, the one and only Judge Roy Moore. And there were a lot of them. It didn’t work. It couldn’t work. Moore is an off-the-charts right-wing Christian and VERY popular in the state for twice getting fired as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, a position to which he was twice elected. People around here don’t like the federal government sticking their (dirty) fingers in their way of life, so when Moore had the temerity to put God ahead of the feds regarding the Ten Commandments and same-sex marriage, the electorate’s love for him only grew.
Roy Moore is so far turned to the right that he has to walk sideways in order to go in a straight line. He’s rebellious. He’s radical. He’s extreme. He’s proud. He’s colorful. He’s uncompromising. And he answers only to his higher power. I doubt there’s another like him anywhere, which is why I went to the trouble of helping him get the Republican nomination for a seat in the U.S. Senate. The more extreme the GOP appears, the greater the likelihood there will be an ideological correction sooner than later. Roy Moore is further right than Trump, Pence, McConnell, Ryan, Cruz, or any of the bunch that represents the real swamp in Washington. He’s beholden to no one and will never be anybody’s puppet. Steve Bannon had nothing to do with the judge’s win, but he showed up at the end of the campaign for an opportunistic sharing of a stage with the man. Bannon is but an ideological child to the wily judge. Those who call Moore ignorant or stupid underestimate him, for he is a West Point graduate and has a law degree from the University of Alabama. He’s a Vietnam veteran, where his strictness as a commander was met with threats of fragging among his troops. He’s also a former kick-boxer. Importantly, he never plays defense; he is aggressively offensive. Roy Moore gives the country a glimpse of conservatism gone-to-seed, which is a good thing as far as I’m concerned, for as long as he wears the label “Republican,” he represents a new standard by which we will define the GOP.
With Judge Moore, Americans will get a glimpse of the close-minded theocracy that’s ahead, as we continue to play the game of “let’s see how far right we can go.” This is even further right than fascism, for a man who will only be guided by what God speaks to his conscience has no other governor, especially not one of men. You think I’m crazy? Play the tape out to its logical conclusion, and you’ll likely gasp at the picture of extremism that’s now just around the corner.
Of course, my hope and belief in voting for the judge is that people will be so alarmed at how far from open-mindedness we’ve drifted as a culture that we’ll work together to bring the pendulum back to the center. The alternative is unacceptable, and we’ve nowhere to turn but the mirror for both the cause and the solution. I want things to get so crazy that people will finally wake-up and smell the coffee! I want it to get so bad that even Republicans will begin to admit they’ve gone too far. Perhaps, too, Roy Moore’s election will cause mainline Christianity to rise up and reclaim the faith. “But, Terry, aren’t you afraid they’ll take us all down with them?” Oh hell no! I helped create this narrow-minded mess when I was executive producer of The 700 Club in the 1980s, so I know its artificial nature. It cannot and will not last, because people are capable of figuring it out for themselves, and I believe we will. Life is still life, and the last time I looked, life was still in charge. We do not “own” life, and therefore, only fools make the assumption that we can control it. As I’ve stated many times in my work, the reduction of life to merely human terms and understanding is utter hubris, for we are nothing at all in comparison to life (with a capital L).
We must, therefore, embrace the open-minded humility that can only come from uncertainty, for the more we think we know, the less we actually do. This is the paradox of close-mindedness, regardless of ideology or faith, and it’s what creates the illusion of a fence between the right and the left when there is only open-mindedness and close-mindedness. The work of Twentieth Century psychologist Milton Rokeach quantified this reality, although many since have refuted it for political reasons. While there is some evidence that the right is perhaps more close-minded than the left, this isn’t really helpful in the argument of the day, for it sets aside the extremism of the left. That in turn forces us into a loop of sloppy thinking from which we will never be able to recover absent the resetting of that thinking. The truth is there are close-minded communists just as surely as there are close-minded fascists, so it isn’t a question of left or right. And if this is true, then there are both open-minded conservatives as well as open-minded liberals, and this is the “center” to which I refer.
And there’s already positive evidence of this center coming into focus. I know of a great many Trump voters who are quietly admitting that their vote was a mistake, and now there’s the statement by Ohio Governor John Kasich that he’s considering leaving the Republican Party if it “can’t be fixed.” Kasich told CNN’s “State of the Union” that he could no longer support “dividers” and pointed to the judge’s victory in Alabama as a motivator for his current thinking. When asked if he would support Moore between now and the December election, Kasich continued his theme. “I don’t run the party,” Kasich said. “I can tell you, for me, I don’t support that. I couldn’t vote for that.”
So yes, I voted for Roy Moore. Most red state Alabamians think his election represents the spearhead of a movement to put their view of God back into American life. This, they argue, is necessary due to how utterly Godless the country has become under leadership that has served the flesh and not the spirit. Of course, in so doing, they’ve become exactly what they despise, although they can’t see it. Bearing a false witness, they’re leading themselves into judgment, and the end result will be a more functional church with its eyes on lifting Jesus to ease broken hearts, caring for the culture’s helpless and suffering, and being in the world but not of it.
It’s likely to get worse before it gets better, and that’s all right with me.