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Editorial: Thanks, Alabama, for reminding us some lines must not be crossed

Dec. 19, 2017 at 11:25 p.m.

We watched with great interest the race to fill Alabama's vacant Senate seat. Now that it's settled, we want to say thank you to the voters of Alabama. We thank them because the outcome may signal that Republican voters are beginning to turn from what their party is becoming.

In the past few years, we have seen the rise of the tea party, the alt-right, Donald Trump and a slew of Republicans who, frankly, are less and less like those we grew up with.

Please don't get us wrong. There are a great many Republicans we admire and support. But we question whether those in this new wing of the party are truly conservative.

Also, please understand we are not writing today in support of Alabama Sen.-elect Doug Jones or to suggest it is great news the Democrat soon will be taking a seat in the U.S. Senate.

What we have to say is about voters in one of our nation's most Republican states saying that, finally, they have had enough of elected officials who preach about Christian and law-and-order values when it's obvious they don't live those values.

We refer, of course, to Roy Moore, the Republican whose campaign was dogged by allegations of sexual misconduct. They are charges that mocked the family values and moral standards Republicans have long revered.

Yes, we have heard the argument a candidate should be considered innocent until proven guilty and, in a court of law, that is exactly how it should be. But the standards are different in an election. To be viable, a candidate must be respectable. That respect is earned act by act, person by person, day by day throughout a life. It is not decided in court.

Most of us know people who have never been convicted of any crime but still are not considered respectable. It does not matter how loyal they are to the organization or idea they represent, or if it's one we support. Sometimes we simply cannot endorse the behavior.

The voters of Alabama, those who know Moore best, reached that point. And we thank them because it is past time for voters to take such a stand. It is past time we the people make clear we want decent, respectable people to represent us. We want statesmen who put propriety above party and who understand our system of government is premised on the notion we can disagree but still work together for a common good.

Yes, there are many in Alabama who voted for Moore and many who endorsed and supported his election. President Donald Trump, his former chief strategist Steve Bannon and talk radio host Sean Hannity all were willing to look past what Alabama voters were not.

So what does this have to do with East Texas? Just this: The list of those who endorsed Moore includes Louie Gohmert, the Tyler Republican who represents Northeast Texas in the U.S. House. He is delighted with Moore's brand of "conservative" politics and supported him throughout the campaign. On the eve of last week's election, in fact, Gohmert was on stage at a rally in Alabama endorsing Moore as a "righteous man."

It has been said you can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep. We find it concerning Gohmert chose not just to spend time with Moore but to encourage Alabamans to send him to Washington. He did so despite Moore's unwillingness to abide by the law as a judge and his stated disdain for parts of our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Gohmert could have stayed quiet, especially given the race had nothing to do with East Texas. But he went willingly and continued his support even as the allegations of sexual misconduct grew stronger. In so doing, Gohmert crossed the very line voters in Alabama went to the polls to say should not be crossed. So while we thank them, we also see in this another example of how Gohmert has lost our respect, and why he is losing the respect of East Texans.

We don't expect our candidates or our politicians to be perfect, but hypocrisy should not be acceptable to either party.



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