Doug Jones is a Terrible Candidate

A critique of Doug Jones from the left

Alabama’s special senate election will take place in just a few days and to many around the country the choice seems particularly clear. The Republican Candidate, Roy Moore, has been accused by multiple women of unwanted sexual advances and sexual assault — including a woman who was only 14 years old at the time. Alongside these allegations are Roy Moore’s troubled political history which includes proudly homophobic, transphobic, and racist remarks, as well as theocratic judicial actions that would make even the most strict constitutional conservatives look away in disgust. Let me be very clear: Roy Moore is a wretched, disgusting, pedophilic rapist who deserves absolutely no place in any leadership position.

So, then, most would say, the choice is clear: vote for Doug Jones, the Democratic candidate running against him. Surely, he doesn’t have as terrible a history as Roy Moore? And they would be right! As of yet, Doug Jones has not been publicly accused of sexual assault, has not been removed from his post twice, and has had generally favorable things to say about LGBT inclusiveness. In fact, as he is oft to point out, he helped prosecute the KKK terrorists who, in 1963, bombed a Birmingham church, leading to the death of four young girls. These are all wonderful qualities, even if, excluding the prosecution of the KKK, they are things we would expect most good people to have.

The problem with Doug Jones is revealed not when you point out what he hasn’t done that Roy Moore has, but rather when you look at what Doug Jones says he plans to do, or, as is often the case, not do. At a time when the already abysmal American healthcare system is at threat of being outright gutted by congress, Doug Jones has repeatedly shied away from supporting Bernie Sanders’s Medicare For All plan, and has not backed single-payer healthcare (an immensely popular policy proposal) despite the fact that his very own website states that he believes “Health care is a right, not a privilege limited to the wealthy and those with jobs that provide coverage.” Jones has also shied away from dedicating himself to supporting a $15 livable wage, again, despite the fact that his own website says that he “strongly support[s] ensuring working Alabamians receive a living wage for their hard work.” And, in a time when the college debt crisis is racking up in the trillions of dollars, he has not endorsed any sort of tuition-free college education program, despite — and I know this is getting tiresome — his own website stating that “Providing a quality education to all children is the key to a long-term thriving economy.”

As a short aside, looking at Doug Jones’s campaign website is an enlightening look into the extent of his tiptoeing mediocrity. Clicking the “Priorities” section immediately greets you with a phrase that thrusts into your face Jones’s nauseating fetishization of respectability politics: “Bring integrity back to Washington”. Moving on from the meaningless blurb that is that sentiment is the “Economy” section of this page which starts out with the very telling phrase “Small businesses are truly the backbone of the American economy”. This, despite the fact that workers, not businesses, are the backbone of any economy, and that American workers are continually laboring longer and harder for less and less pay while the capitalists who own these businesses are making more and more, is what Doug Jones feels is most important to state first in his campaign website’s “Economy” section.

Going back to respectability politics; Doug Jones loves it. A lot. It is difficult to hear Jones speak for more than thirty seconds without him mentioning “bipartisanship” or “reaching across the aisle”. Jones cares so much about respecting the “other side of the issues” that his campaign put out an ad that described the Civil War as “two sides believing so strongly in their cause that they were willing to die for it”, and citing the example of a Confederate and a Union General coming together as a virtuous act that should be encouraged. One must think hard about what exactly Jones is willing to compromise on if he sees shaking hands with a General who fought for the preservation of chattel slavery as even a possibility.

The Civil War ad is not the Jones campaign’s only advertising misstep. In a move that garnered some national headlines, the Jones campaign decided it appropriate to mail out fliers that read “Think if a black man went after high school girls anyone would try to make him a senator?” with the picture of a black man underneath. Being that it was a flier that was clearly indicative of some racialized thinking of its creator, there was justified backlash to it — many calling blatantly racist.

It would seem as if the Democratic Party of Alabama decided to back not only one of the most mediocre and uninspiring candidates possible in a time of strong populist sentiments, but also a candidate who is too racially insensitive to run ads that don’t glowingly reference Civil War “compromise” or spit directly in the face of the black community.

Come election day, Alabamians will have the sacred honor of participating in the democratic process by voting for either a child rapist or a weak-kneed white blob in a suit to go work on Capitol Hill for some unknown corporate donor. Personally, I can’t say that I will be taking part.