What did Doug Jones’s Senate victory in Alabama feel like? It felt like a rescue team finally breaking through the rock to the pocket where we’d been trapped in a coal mine. The coal mine President Trump had reopened and imprisoned us in.
It was a taste of sweet, fresh air; a taste we had just about forgotten. But it also signaled an ultimate rescue from the claustrophobic, incomprehensible darkness and disaster that it sometimes seemed would be our final resting place.
The thumping repudiation of Roy Moore, who was something of a Trump doppelganger, only Moore-so, came not a moment too soon. But in some ways, it may have come a moment too late. Let’s look at where we are.
There are four principal threats Trump represents. Let’s go through them.
Autocracy: This was the most implausible to pull off, but by far the most dangerous. It depended on Trump winning a continuous string of high-risk bets that he could violate norms one by one, stay a step ahead of his opponents, intimidate them and collect a large, inflamed and powerful enough core to break the standards of the country and do as he pleased. The Moore loss was brutal to him in this regard. It showed his vulnerability, and that was the one thing he needed to avoid.
Wealth disparity: Republicans have been working on borrowed time to pass what they know is a terrible, massively unpopular bill, to pay off their donors. The Alabama loss complicates this but may not derail it. It may only increase their desperation. They are like the thief who is at last inside the vault, staring at the cash, but the alarm is shrieking. Does he run, or try to stuff his sack and then run? If Republicans do the latter, they will have succeeded in worsening wealth inequality for perhaps a generation. Getting the money back will be difficult, if not impossible.
Climate change: The clock is ticking, and Republicans keep on tricking. The Trump administration is daily building in an increasingly terrible future. It’s not clear how the Alabama vote will help that soon enough.
Courts: I don’t want to even think about this. The damage Trump can do there is still large, and also close to permanent.
But let us get back to the good news for today. I think we have seen the beginning of the end of Trumpism and this current, horrible version of the Republican Party. It signals a likely decisive blow in 2018, if not sooner. The willingness of Republicans to stand in the way of legitimate investigations of the catastrophe inhabiting the Oval Office will be weaker now, as Trump’s aura of untouchability is weaker.
So let us today all hail the Alabama victory. And the coming end of Trump. It literally cannot come soon enough.