By Carl Carter, APR
I’ve heard all the arguments about why Doug Jones can’t win a Senate seat in Alabama. They come down to one thing: Alabama votes red because Alabama’s voted red before.
Here’s one thing people are forgetting: Every time a seat flips from one party to the other, it demonstrates the lie in that logic. We assume that the future will look like our past. So when our party is in power, we assume that’s now “our” office, our state, or our property. We get complacent. If the other party is in power, we give in to hopelessness.
We forget the power of a transformative candidate. A Reagan. Or an Obama. Or a Doug Jones.
That’s right. I believe Jones is a game changer. The August 15 primary chased away the fog that had come from bogus public polls, with a clear and convincing 65.56% Jones win. Now, the real trick is to win a general election over either Roy Moore or Luther Strange.
- He speaks to issues that matter to Alabamians. He calls them “kitchen table” issues — the things that matter in our day-to-day lives. Like health insurance for all Americans. Everybody in Alabama can point to a friend or family member whose savings have been exhausted by a case of cancer or open heart surgery. We can identify with salaries that never seem to go up, while the people who own the companies become richer and richer.
- He understands the power of the story. Jones is a storyteller in the finest tradition. (He talks about this in a video about his prosecution of the Klan members who bombed Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. If you haven’t seen it, you really should. Powerful stuff.) Anybody who’s spent much time around me knows that I’m obsessed with the power of stories. When we hear talking points, we glaze over. But when we hear a great story, it becomes part of us. We remember it, retell it, act on it.
- He’s fearless. Fear makes people act funny. They say stupid things, and make decisions that hurt them. Jones has done the impossible before, and he makes the people around him believe they can do it as well. When you sit across the table from him and he tells you “we can do this,” you can’t help believe it. This courage helps prevent unfortunate decisions that plague more timid candidates.
- The timing is perfect. When we look at the events of Charlottesville and the resurgence of the Klan and Neo-Nazi groups, it’s a natural reflex to turn to those who have faced down these groups and defeated them before. Nobody in the country has a track record so ideally suited to this environment.
- Jones has the “it factor.” In the presidential election, we had to make do with a candidate who was plagued by scandal, damaged from years of attacks, and lacking in charisma. In the Georgia Sixth race, we had a huge groundswell, but ultimately, we had a 30-year-old guy with little experience. Jones is good. Seasoned, well known, charismatic. Never underestimate that.
Now our challenge is this: To carry out a campaign that’s as good as our candidate. If we do that, we’ll send Senator Doug Jones to Washington.