The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Doug Jones wins for Alabama and Democrats, and sends a message to the world

Post columnist Jonathan Capehart says the world is breathing a sigh relief after Democrat Doug Jones's surprise victory in the Alabama Senate race. (Video: Gillian Brockell/The Washington Post, Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Le Diplomate, a Washington restaurant that is my kitchen away from home, was packed. My husband, our friends and I were conducting multiple conversations while refreshing our browsers for Alabama election results. All but my clairvoyant spouse were convinced Doug Jones (D) would lose to Roy Moore (accused child molester). When I said that I still held out hope Jones would win, one friend looked at me with those eyes that a parent has just before revealing the secret about Santa Claus.

And then it happened. The race was called for Jones. A cheer rose from our table and others as refreshed browsers throughout the restaurant popped the news. A deep-red state where President Trump walloped Hillary Clinton by 28 percentage points voted to send a Democrat to the U.S. Senate for the first time in 25 years. That the seat used to be warmed by now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions adds something special to the Jones victory.

By now, we all know that Jones would not be senator-elect without African Americans. The chart below from The Post’s report on exit-poll data shows it clearly.

Jones lost every demographic slice of white voters. No matter. The black electorate filled the void. And let’s be clear: By giving him 98 percent of their vote, African American women were Jones’s front line. Just as they were in the Virginia governor’s race last month. May this second black-propelled victory demonstrate to the Democratic Party what Steve Phillips, co-founder of, has been arguing for years now.

“Progressives cannot win going forward without large and enthusiastic support from people of color,” he writes in his book “Brown Is the New White: How the Demographic Revolution Has Created a New American Majority.” “White can no longer be the starting point. We must now begin with Brown, and that is why Brown is the new White.”

“America stands for something special, a country with the courage to say ‘YES’ when history says ‘NO.’”

But I learned an equally important lesson Tuesday night. The special-election results in Alabama were closely watched around the world as a sign of whether the American people were going to show some semblance of sanity. Back in March, you may recall that a foreign ambassador told me, “America has lost the one weapon it has, the power to inspire. It breaks my heart.” Less than an hour after the race was called for Jones, that same diplomat sent me a message.

I am over the moon
The best book I have ever read, the best movie I have seen, the best dream I have ever had, is called America. God I am happy. Haven’t been this happy in a long time. So happy and proud.
And yes, there is a disappointing chapter here and there…but yet it is the best book ever

The defeat of Moore is a reproach of an unfit and morally reprehensible candidate. It is the comeuppance of Stephen K. Bannon, a white nationalist who fancies himself a political Svengali. And it is a stunning rebuke of an insecure president whose lack of a moral and philosophical core has diminished the office and the nation he leads. In the eyes of a Trump-weary nation and a jittery world that mourns the loss of America as a beacon of hope, Jones’s win is another step in truly making America great again.

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Read more about this topic:

Alyssa Rosenberg: From Donald Trump to Roy Moore, the difference #MeToo and a year makes

E.J. Dionne Jr.: Alabama shows us what courage is

David Von Drehle: Doug Jones’s victory should make Trump nervous

Marc A. Thiessen: Congratulations, Steve Bannon, you just elected a Democrat in Alabama

Ed Rogers: Sen. Shelby channels Atticus Finch, saves the day in Alabama

Alexandra Petri: Tell me more about Steve Bannon’s genius

Erik Wemple: When Breitbart isn’t enough