News & Politics

Why Roy Moore Still Has Supporters

Former Alabama Chief Justice and U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore gets in his car

The allegations against Roy Moore keep piling up. It seems like every day there’s another accusation of Moore tooling around Alabama in his 30s, trying to hook up with a high school girl. It’s like Matthew McConaughey channeled Moore in Dazed and Confused:

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Opponents of Moore have taken to questioning the morals of his supporters. “How can you call yourself a Christian and support a pedophile?” Well, there’s a major reason why Moore’s supporters are standing resolute. They simply don’t believe the accusations.

Yes, some of his defenders have accepted the allegations as true, and have tried to justify or downplay his alleged behavior. But most of them simply don’t accept the accusations as factual. They’re convinced that Moore is the victim of a well-timed smear job, and that Moore has always been an honorable man.

Democrats may be aghast to hear this, but it’s not unusual. It’s happened recently with politicians Democrats adore, too. Most notably, this guy:

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That’s right.

Most Democrats who backed Clinton, and his wife in 2016, didn’t do that in spite of the allegations of affairs, rape, and sexual harassment. Most simply didn’t believe them — and still don’t. They refused to accept the words of women like Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey, and Juanita Broaddrick.

This is, unfortunately, normal.

People tend to merge the candidates they support with their own identities. The moral failings of those candidates can feel like their own failings, and thus they choose to avoid that reckoning.

This isn’t a conscious choice, mind you. It’s just something that happens. We defend our psyches. Any time there’s an allegation of impropriety absent objective evidence — and even with evidence, in many cases — supporters tend to dismiss the accusation and opponents tend to accept it.

With Moore, there’s also something else at work here: the age-old distrust of the North by many Southerners.

The allegations against Moore didn’t come from an Alabama newspaper, but from the Washington Post — one of the most northern, or elitist, of papers to southern minds. Like it or not, there are still wounds from the Civil War and Reconstruction, and they’re not all racial, folks. Many in the South feel that Northerners sneer at us as simple, backward people who need our “betters” to save us.

So here we have a candidate like Moore who espouses ideas most Alabamans think, and he gets hammered with a news story that originated in the Washington Post. Alabama conservatives already, with good reason, distrust the mainstream media. Now a elitist publication suddenly “finds” a slew of accusations against a good and notable Christian just before an election?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a Moore supporter. I think the Post did a fair job with its story, and that there’s a strong likelihood the allegations are true.

But I also understand why his supporters stand by him. It’s not because they approve of what he is alleged to have done. It’s not because they’re horrible people.

It’s that they simply don’t believe the charges, just like supporters of almost every other candidate that ever had to face such accusations.