It’s a relief in so many ways to see Doug Jones pull out a win:

  • Trump repudiated
  • Added pressure on the GOP in the U.S. Senate
  • Alabamians, it turns out, are more like the rest of America than many supposed
  • Broadly, a ray of hope electorally for Democrats and fellow progressives

At the same time, though, it troubles me that the election probably turned — and barely, at that — on the allegations of sexual impropriety on Moore’s part. It’s not that I don’t take that seriously, but that many Alabama voters didn’t take seriously Moore’s lawless homophobia and racism. It seems straightforward to me that Roy Moore isn’t temperamentally, philosophically or intellectually fit for public office, his weird sexual proclivities aside. But nearly half of last night’s voters didn’t see that, apparently.

This, of course, isn’t a problem only in Alabama. Donald Trump won in Wisconsin, where I live, despite being every bit as unqualified as Roy Moore. And, by the way, I personally view Trump’s behavior and attitude towards women as much worse than Moore’s (which seems to be as much an issue of arrested development as misogyny).

One lesson coming out of Alabama seems to be that for Democrats to win, they have to work hard to mobilize urban voters.

But another lesson is that for the country to win, Americans, rural and urban, need to speak to one another, rather than simply listening to their favorite talking heads on TV. Rural Alabama and rural Wisconsin aren’t 100% Republican, nor are their urban areas 100% Democratic. We need to recognize the values and aspirations we hold in common with our neighbors, and give more weight to them in others, as we surely do in ourselves. We can disagree on means, but I’m sure we mostly share our hoped-for ends.

Only with respectful conversations among citizens will we achieve civil comity and sensible, acceptable solutions to the problems that confront us.