Republican voters in Alabama will head to the polls on Tuesday to vote in a U.S. Senate primary, and it’s proving to be a tough race to predict. Sen. Luther Strange (R) has the baggage that comes with having been appointed by a disgraced former governor who had to resign, but Strange has the benefit of support from Donald Trump, the NRA, and the Republican establishment.
Rep. Mo Brooks, meanwhile, is in contention, running on an anti-establishment, pro-border-wall platform, but recent polling suggests it’s former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, twice removed from the bench for ethics violations, who may be the candidate to watch next week.
It’s against this backdrop that Moore sat down with The Guardian, where the Alabama Republican suggested he isn’t impressed with America’s moral standing.
In an interview with the Guardian’s Anywhere But Washington series, Moore also said that Ronald Reagan’s famous declaration about the Soviet Union being “the focus of evil in the modern world” might today be applied to the US.
“You could say that very well about America, couldn’t you?” he said. “We promote a lot of bad things.”
Asked for an example of the United States promoting “bad things,” Moore said, “Same-sex marriage.”
The Guardian reminded Moore that Russian President Vladimir Putin has said effectively the same thing. “Well, maybe Putin is right,” Moore replied. “Maybe he’s more akin to me than I know.”
It’s a fascinating perspective. For years, Republicans claimed ownership of American patriotism as if it were their birthright. The idea that a popular GOP candidate in a ruby-red state would suggest that the United States may be “the focus of evil in the modern world” would’ve been unthinkable in the not-too-distant past.
If a Republican were to say such a thing, he or she could expect to face immediate public rebukes. In theory, it would end his or her career instantly.
And yet, in 2017, with Republican radicalism intensifying, the GOP’s approach to patriotism has changed in dramatic ways. Donald Trump, for example, has slandered the United States’ moral standing in ways without precedent in the American tradition – which has largely generated shrugged shoulders from his Republican brethren.
Similarly, there’s no reason to believe Roy Moore will suffer in any way for his latest comments.
We’ve come a long way since the days in which the “blame America first crowd” was a staple of Republican attacks on the left.