Roy Moore & Republicans: Don’t Stand With the Lesser Evil

In 2016, it was tempting to think American politics could never again produce worse choices for high office than Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. These would be the last Boomers to run for president, I thought, and they seemed to be designed specifically to humiliate their supporters. Trump, the sleazy tribune of traditional-values voters. On the other side, the grifter Clinton, who gets rich on behalf of the little guy.

The atheist Christopher Hitchens used to argue that religion was useful for getting good and conscientious people to do wicked things. Politics can be used in the same way. Those two candidates could only have advanced so far because American politics is so tightly wired to our fears and hatreds. Why would anyone decent support either of them — unless on some level you feared and hated the other side?

But nothing since the election suggests that the trend will change. Politics in 2017 is like a bad after-school special. And the plot twist we all knew was coming is now here: It turns out that Alabama’s rootin’-tootin’ man of God, Roy Moore, had previously unrevealed sexual sins in his life. Now in the public, they have exploded into a scandal during his insurgent campaign in Alabama’s special election to fill Jeff Sessions’s Senate seat.

Several prominent Evangelicals have already embarrassed themselves in their rush to cover Moore’s sins in a cloak of righteousness, and therefore justify pulling the lever for him in the election. Moore’s defense on Friday amounted to a strenuous denial that was difficult to credit. Asked if he could unequivocally state that he never dated a teenager when he was in his thirties, Moore replied: “It would be out of my customary behavior.”

My colleague David French has admirably (and correctly) put forward the way in which it violates Biblical principles to choose the lesser of two evils, so long as it’s your side’s evil. But I’d like to advance the political case against letting fear and hatred lead us to consistently lower our standards and lend our support to the ambitions of less and less worthy people.

First, there is is the argument from credibility. Every social conservative who supports Moore is increasing the cynicism of American society and justifying widespread skepticism about the sincerity of Christian belief among conservatives. People are reminded frequently that Christian conservatives once demanded that Bill Clinton resign in…

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