Tully Borland has quite the take regarding Roy Moore (“Why Alabamians Should Vote For Roy Moore,” The Federalist, 11/30/2017):
I have a 14-year-old daughter. If I caught him doing what was alleged, for starters I would kick him where it counts. Hard. That being said, I don’t think it’s wrong to vote for Moore.
Sometimes there is such an overflow of Principled Conservatism© that I just don’t know what we’re going to do with all of it!
Borland offers the kind of stock rebuttals to arguments against voting for Moore. He points out a David French article from National Review in which French argues that Moore is not just corrupt, but evil. Borland thinks all voting is a choice between the lesser of two evils, and so turns to his second point, which is that Doug Jones is more reprehensible because of his views on abortion. And then he goes on to say that politics isn’t pure, so people should get over it because voting for Jones or not voting for Moore is the more evil thing than voting for the accused child molester (which, by the way, Borland goes out of his way to repeatedly state that hey, we don’t know that he did these things, so, you know, there’s that).
But Borland also has some more… unconventional arguments:
in his early thirties, Moore had a penchant for dating teenagers. Apparently, this was not an uncommon occurrence during this time. In fact, this practice has a long history and is not without some merit if one wants to raise a large family.
Wait, so Borland argues that grown men diddling kids is completely normal because it happened a lot in the past and was a means to starting a large family, but wouldn’t want Moore doing that to his 14-year-old daughter. Then why would he kick Moore in the nuts if he walked in on Moore molesting her? Why wouldn’t he just assume that Moore was testing out whether his daughter would be a good baby-making machine for a well-established man such as himself?
And that study he links to? The data that the researchers collected were from parish registries in Scandinavia—from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. Not from Alabama 40 years ago. Besides, the researchers also found that the optimal age difference for reproducing for men was six years, not fifteen. So Moore’s just a pervert and a pedophile, not a centuries-old Scandinavian trying to optimize his child output.
But I want to get back to his point about why no moral conservative can entertain the thought of a vote for Doug Jones:
Jones has gone on record that not only does he support abortion, but he supports unrestricted abortion, even opposing a ban on abortion after 20 weeks. This is morally equivalent to supporting infanticide. So either Jones knows exactly what he’s doing in supporting killing babies in utero but doesn’t care, in which case he’s a moral monster, or his moral compass is in such need of calibration that one should never trust his judgment in moral matters. Politics, of course, is inextricably bound with such matters.
In my mind, Jones’ position is so extreme that a vote for him is a vote for the greater of two evils by a wide margin. It’s hard to imagine much worse than the mass murder of innocents.
Because a certain brand of conservatives will fall back on this argument no matter what—“They support abortion! That’s like the Holocaust!”—I want to know just how far Borland is willing to take this argument. If he believe that Jones’s support for a woman having agency over her own body is morally equivalent to the endorsement of infanticide, would he still urge Alabamans to vote for Moore if Moore were guilty, or at least under real suspicion, of murder? If we had good reason to believe Moore had committed murder, or two murders, or three murders, would Borland still argue the point? Would he say that Moore is the morally superior choice given that Jones’s pro-choice stance now makes him automatically responsible for every abortion that happens in America?
It’s an absurd comparison. And if Borland really thinks Jones supports infanticide, would he support a Moore-ish or Trump-ish candidate if they proposed the mass murder of a minority group in America whose population is less than the total number of abortions per year?
For conservatives like Borland, this is no longer about ideology. It’s no longer about morality. It’s no longer about a competition between equally compelling if radically different ideas. It’s about making sure people who are on your side win no matter what.