Reflecting on the Alabama Senate Election Result

For a lot of people, the 2020 election was a symbol of hope. It was the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage and a new generation of young voters stepped up to the ballot box. After four years of Trump and this dark year of isolation and illness, the nation felt in many ways cautiously rejuvenated — people seemed to widely see the opportunity they had to create change. 

However, for most of us, the dream of a blue wave was dashed as results started coming in. Although Biden has now won the election with a slim margin in many of the important battleground states, Trump does not seem likely to concede until he has worked through every possible lawsuit he can wage. I woke up on November 4 like many others feeling physically and mentally drained. But it is not just the presidential election that weighs heavy on my mind, it is an election much closer to home — the Alabama Senate election.

In 2017 the unthinkable happened: Doug Jones, a Democrat, won Alabama’s second seat in the United States Senate. This special election received national attention, with results being discussed on all the mainstream national news outlets and Hollywood celebrities donating to Jones’ campaign. Usually Alabama never receives this much attention: most see the state as backwards, unflippable, and hopelessly red. Although Doug Jones’ Republican opponent Roy Moore was an accused child molester who was removed from the Alabama Supreme Court twice, Jones’ win represented that even the deep red south was shifting and open to change. 

That  election is also sentimental for me because it was the first I voted in. I had just turned 18 and returned from serving as a page in the United States Senate that June. As a page in 2017, I witnessed the beginnings of the Trump administration and how our representatives act when the camera isn’t on. I also witnessed the bipartisan breakdown of the Senate in the age of Trump. When I returned home, I still felt optimistic. I saw the special election as a way to bring a fresh new member to Alabama’s congressional delegation. When Doug Jones won I felt like my voice was heard in the political process. It renewed hope in many of us that Alabama was ready to evolve. Going into 2020, I knew Senator Jones was facing an uphill battle – would he be able to win reelection against an opponent that wasn’t Roy Moore? Even I was doubtful. 

After months of misguided Tuberville ads littered with factual inaccuracies airing, election night finally came around. Fairly early into the night, the election was called with Tuberville as the winner. It was honestly crushing. The thought of having a football coach, who just moved to Alabama 18 months previously — especially one who didn’t know how our government works, as evidenced in the things he said — representing us in the Senate is humiliating. Doug Jones proved to the rest of the nation that Alabama’s stereotypes are not always accurate, but Tuberville’s win seems to erase this progress. 

I am also more importantly saddened by what this means for Alabama’s residents. I am afraid that this means that Alabama’s long neglected and often purposefully overlooked groups — people of color, religious minorities, and women — will not be properly represented. Doug Jones has used his career to better represent and defend vulnerable Alabamians, successfully prosecuting the Ku Klux Klan and abortion clinic bombers. Tuberville is a failed football coach whose rhetoric only represents Trump’s Alabama. 

There are rumors that Doug Jones is being considered for attorney general in Biden’s cabinet, and that is what makes me somewhat hopeful in the midst of this darkness. The last Alabama senator to be attorney general was Jeff Sessions under Donald Trump. The prospect of Jones taking over this office would mean that although Alabama lost when choosing Tuberville, it could be America’s gain. It would also mean that Doug Jones could become an even brighter symbol of what Alabama, and ultimately our nation, could be: a more fairly represented place where the demons of our past no longer have a say in our government.