Roy Moore is not your average bigot. There are plenty of people who either think their hate is justified or don't recognize it at all, but that's not Moore. He has made a career out of openly, shamelessly promoting one of the most toxic ideologies in America and contorting the law to serve it. Throughout his career as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, he has abused his position to enact his personal code of moral law.
The first time he was removed from office was when he refused to remove a Ten Commandments monument from his courtroom. The good people of Alabama then chose to re-elect him. When the United States Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, Moore opposed that as well, resulting in his suspension from office. Now, he is on track to be Alabama's next senator.
Moore's victory in the Alabama senate primary — and his likely win in the general election — will certainly hurt the Republican agenda. Moore is too unpredictable to be a reliable team player. But that doesn't mean his victory is a good thing. While Moore's harsh stances and misanthropy could help stall Republican legislation, any modest gains for Democrats are far outweighed by the disturbing implications of Moore's victory.
It's easy to think any loss for President Trump is a victory for the soul of America, and Moore's victory can, in that way, be rationalized. But I grew up with his stormy presence looming over my state. To me and many other Alabamians, he is a potent symbol of southern intolerance. Moore is racist, Islamophobic, homophobic, xenophobic, anti-science, uninformed and generally heartless. According to his law professor, he can't even make basic legal arguments without resorting to baseless personal insults. He is a relic of the South's bloody past and yet shockingly contemporary. He is every one of America's darkest impulses bundled into one man. But not only that, he is an Alabamian, and he is the man my fellow Alabamians think is fit to represent our state to the nation.
It is not time to celebrate the fracturing of the Republican party. The same forces ripping the GOP apart are also responsible for bringing Moore one step closer to the Senate. It shows how polluted American politics have become. Moore's ideology pits neighbor against neighbor, Alabamian against Alabamian, American against American. If Trump's politics are divisive, Moore's are cancerous. Anyone who dares deviate from Moore's strict moral law is the enemy and deserving of righteous hatred. He isn't the source of the South's intolerance, but he is a catalyst. His ascension to the national stage will only further corrupt Alabama's social and political climate.
There is some hope. Moore's challenger, Doug Jones, is polling exceptionally well for an Alabama Democrat. A Jones victory would be a major upset, but it is possible. So to any other Alabamians at the University of Maryland: Please vote. Even if Moore wins, we can send a message. We can let America know at least some of us aren't willing to tolerate his bigotry and demagoguery.