Roy Moore and Party Polarization

Alison Zimmerman

“Our rights come from God,” or so is the case according to Roy Moore, the 70-year-old Republican candidate up for election in Alabama on Dec.12 in what is projected to be a tight race. The special election between Moore and Democratic candidate Doug Jones will determine the successor for Jeff Sessions’ seat on the U.S. Senate. On the election trail, Moore has advocated views that would seem extreme even to GOP hardliners. He has claimed 9/11 to be an act of God punishing America for its sins, has advocated for the impeachment of Supreme Court justices who rule on same-sex marriage and has even called for the reinstatement of racial segregation in Alabama’s schools. But what might be most unsettling about the prospect of Moore on the U.S. Senate lies behind the scenes.

Moore has the support of deep-pocketed investors on the hunt for more candidates like him to back in the upcoming 2018 midterm congressional elections. With money and extremists driving party politics, America is edging on a political climate that is not only unsustainable, but potentially destructive.

Party polarization has been a formidable source of instability in recent American political history and the problem is only worsening. In these past few weeks, the growing grassroots populist branch of the Republican party has joined Moore in attacking Mitch McConnell and other members of the so-called Republican establishment, with the support of some of most in uential players in the “alt-right.” Moore is backed not only by former White House strategist Steve Bannon but also by billionaire hedge fund investors Robert and Rebekah Mercer, all of whom are on the frontline in an attempt to push the Republican party further and further into isolationist economics and hardcore social conservatism. Moore is essentially their guinea pig — an attempt to test the scope of influence of the so called alt-right and its benefactors. A Moore victory on Dec. 12 could signal a full-on GOP civil war in the 2018 midterm elections, pitting the establishment against those actively seeking to dismantle the political institutions that be.

But while the GOP continues to grapple with internal forces pushing the party to the very edge of the spectrum, the Democratic party has come under its own fire. Many Democrats both in Congress and around the country have held onto some of the far-leftist sentiments brought to the table by the Bernie Sanders campaign — be it single-payer health care or free college — and have abandoned more moderate views. At NYU, this growing lack of ideological diversity in liberal politics is apparent. Much of the student body agrees unanimously on issues central to leftist politics with little dissent on campus. In this regard, NYU is a microcosm of national politics, reminiscent of the record level polarization across the country.

With a congress already plagued by gridlock and political tensions nearing the boiling point, we simply cannot afford even deeper divides between the two major parties. For a successful democracy, politicians and voters alike must be willing to compromise and reach a middle ground on divisive issues facing the country. If both major parties adopt unflinching stances at far ends of the political spectrum, our democracy will inevitably collapse.

Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them. Email Alison Zimmerman at [email protected]

A version of this appeared in the Monday, Oct. 23 print edition. Email [email protected]

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