The defeat of Roy Moore in Tuesday's special election in Alabama, to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions, was a welcome development. But Democrats should not rush to congratulate themselves and draw too many unwarranted conclusions about the implications for the upcoming midterm elections.
Rarely has a major party put up a Senate candidate who was so widely renounced by top party elected officials. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made clear that he was prepared to find a legal remedy to block Moore from taking his seat if elected. President Donald Trump backed Moore's opponent in the Republican primaries (while Steven Bannon enthusiastically backed Moore) and only came in with a lukewarm endorsement in the final weeks, based more on a pragmatic consideration about the narrow Republican majority in the Senate than any enthusiasm for Moore as a future GOP Senate stalwart.
One takeaway from the Moore loss is that Republicans in Congress will rush even faster to pass an ill-conceived tax reform bill–before the new Democratic Senator from Alabama, Doug Jones, can be sworn in. A Moore demand for a recount could stall that swearing in by a matter of days or weeks, but in any case, it is now more likely that a strictly partisan tax bill will land on President Trump's desk before the end of the year.
Another takeaway from the narrowing of the GOP Senate majority is that perhaps, after years of intensifying partisan gridlock, it may become clear that members of the GOP and Democratic Party are going to have to begin working together on bipartisan legislation. That kind of return to comity and bipartisanship would be a welcome development for the nation. Whether it was Barack Obama's signature Affordable Care Act and Dodd-Frank bill, or the GOP efforts at ACA repeal, tax and immigration reform, it is usually the case that legislation passed by a strictly party-line vote is bad legislation.
For one brief moment earlier this year, it appeared that President Trump understood that simple fact and cut his deal with "Chuck and Nancy," to the consternation of the Republican Establishment.
The United States is not a parliamentary system. We are a democratic republic. President George Washington, in his seminal Farewell Address, not only warned about the dangers of "passionate attachments" in foreign policy. He warned equally about the divisiveness of factions, regionalism and partisanship. Some times core principles ring true through the decades and centuries.