Our view: Conservatives should consider Senator Shelby's example

In the past few weeks, we've heard story after story of conservative Alabamians frustrated and confused about their choice, worried about how to do the right thing.

That worry isn't misplaced - it is a choice that matters.

We urge you not to be fooled into believing this is a matter of "liberal" vs. "conservative."

If you care about the future of this state, this election is for you.

If you are (or love) a woman, this election is for you. If you are looking for a job, if you run a business, if you worry about the future of your children, this election is for you.  

On Tuesday, the rest of the world will see just one winner -- and will declare that all of Alabama has spoken. 

Just 100 Americans get to be in the Senate. Alabama chooses two of them. That's a privilege the Constitution gives to our small state in order to balance the influence of states with huge populations.  

We should choose wisely and carefully in exercising this privilege. Voting for Roy Moore just because he has an "R" next to his name, ignoring his record of personal and official misconduct, is neither wise nor careful.

That's why we urge you to consider the decision of our state's senior Senator Richard Shelby.

Shelby assessed Moore's record in state office and the credible allegations against him of sexual misconduct - including sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl - and deemed Moore unqualified.

When voting early several days ago, Shelby wrote in what he called "a distinguished Republican write-in." There are many.

Moore might dismiss Shelby as part of the "Washington establishment" (though he has been silent about Shelby's choice). But 64 percent of Alabama voters reelected Shelby a year ago. He has been Alabama's senator since 1986. He has served the state with dignity and he has never embarrassed us. His judgment of Moore is convincing.

For a state's senior senator to not support his party's nominee for the other seat is almost unheard of. Historians could find just one example: from 1990, when Louisiana's Republican nominee was David Duke, a former KKK leader. Alabamians should think hard about how effective Moore can be as junior senator, with such a fissure between him and Shelby, let alone other Republicans.

Shelby is not alone among Alabama conservatives or Republicans in his judgment against Moore. Alabama's Young Republican Federation pulled their endorsement from Moore. State Sen. Dick Brewbaker has stated that he won't support Moore. And we suspect there may be other Republican leaders quietly planning to vote against Moore.

Outside of Alabama, the last Republican nominee for president before Donald Trump has also declared Moore unacceptable. Mitt Romney also might be dismissed as an outsider by Moore, but he won more than 60 percent of Alabamians votes in 2012, nearly 200,000 more votes than Roy Moore who shared the ballot with him. Republican Evan McMullin's PAC has taken out ads against Roy Moore, as have Log Cabin Republicans. The outspoken opposition to Roy Moore by his own party, particularly given the balance of power in Washington, is surprising and noteworthy.

Alabamians struggling with their decision could follow the path of some of these conservatives and write in a name.

Or they could consider the Democrat candidate, Doug Jones. Moore and Trump have tried hard of late to paint Jones as a liberal. But Jones is not particularly liberal and has campaigned hard on his intent to try to work across party lines. That's something Washington needs more of - and something it would not get from Moore.

Some Republicans have expressed that they'll vote for Moore with the hopes that the Senate will expel him and he can be replaced with more palatable conservative option. That's unlikely. National Republicans have already begun stating that they'll respect the decision of the voters of Alabama. And voters must ask themselves: should you vote for a man you hope will be kicked out of his job?

Many conservatives are deeply troubled by Moore's conduct in his 30s, and his being removed from the bench twice for ignoring the U.S. Constitution, but one issue more than any other holds them back from rejecting him - abortion. Moore wants to criminalize all abortions. Jones is in favor of leaving Alabama's law as it is currently written. He is pro-choice but a vote for Doug Jones will not create one more abortion in this state. Or this country. He has held to his beliefs on this even as some have urged him to waffle in order to defeat Moore. It's rare that a politician in Alabama will hold onto his beliefs, even when they're unpopular.

However, if a voter shares Moore's view, and is willing to see any woman, even a rape victim, jailed for having an abortion, nothing we or anyone else can say will change her or his mind. These voters, like Sen. Shelby, still have an option:  write in a name and make their conscience, and their regard for women in this state, heard.

A novel argument from some Alabamians has been that electing Jones will be better than electing Moore, because as a Democrat Jones could be easily defeated in the next election, whereas Moore would likely be a senator for life. There is truth to that. And frankly, our state and our country would be better off with more Senators and Representatives serving just a term or two, and fewer career politicians in office.

In the end, we urge you to vote. Each of us will live with the outcome of this election on our shoulders. This state needs people of good conscience to come forward Tuesday and to register a voice for dignity for all people.