Roy Moore, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, triumphed over the Republican political establishment on Tuesday in one of the most significant grassroots victories since…well, since a guy named Donald Trump beat 17 other Republicans to win the presidential nomination last spring. The odd thing this time, of course, is that Trump himself was backing Moore’s opponent, incumbent Senator Luther Strange.
Why or how that happened is a story that still needs to be told, but in the meantime, it’s enough to relish the powerful shockwaves rippling through the power bunkers in D.C. right now. After deluding themselves into believing they could fool Trump voters into thinking they were “on the side of the people,” the Republican leaders – Mitch McConnell chief among them – are waking up Wednesday knowing that their jobs are no longer secure from insurgent challengers. Strange may not have had much of a record to run on – he was a handpicked guy to replace Jeff Sessions earlier this year – but his failure to win was more than just HIS failure. It was a failure of all the king’s horses and all the king’s men. It was a failure of millions of establishment, corporate money. It was a failure of the Old Guard. It was a failure of The Swamp.
And it won’t be the last one.
The New York Times reported that it was also a huge failure for McConnell:
Despite the money and staff he directed to the race, Mr. McConnell became as much a liability as he was an asset, leaving Republicans nervously wondering what that may portend in other primaries next year.
On Tuesday night, Mr. McConnell said in a statement that he understood Mr. Moore had channeled “a dissatisfaction with the progress made in Washington.” Saying that he shared that frustration, Mr. McConnell said he was determined to help Mr. Moore win, and made no references to the bitter attacks on his leadership by Mr. Moore and his allies.
No, we’re sure he didn’t. He’s as eager as President Trump to move beyond this embarrassing loss and pretend like everyone was on the side of the voters all along. Once again, Washington Republicans are counting on the idiocy of the conservative base…a misplaced assumption that is going to keep costing them elections.
Trump took a chance here. He wanted to mend fences with McConnell and play nice. It turned around and burned him. Hopefully, he’ll learn his lesson and remember that there is no profit in taking sides against the very people who put him in the White House.
As for McConnell and the rest of the clownish GOP establishment, Moore’s victory may be the last wakeup call they get. Start living up to your promises or face the end of your careers. It’s that simple.