Country over party. That's what United States Senator Jeff Flake said as a caption to a picture he posted on Twitter -- a photo of a personal check written out to "Doug Jones for U.S. Senate" with a memo to match the caption, "Country over party."
Jones replied to Flake's tweet, saying, "Thanks Jeff. I hope others will donate too! #OneWeek #RightSideOfHistory"
Flake's donation, and Jones' reminder of the stakes (sending Roy Moore to the United States Senate would be an unforgivable stain on America that history won't forget), summoned my wallet out of my pocket. Doug Jones can add another $15 to his war chest tonight, this time from an Oregonian. I don't have much money, but I have enough to take a stand in a race like this. After all, there aren't many races like this.
Senator Flake has taken some disastrous votes. I was angry when he voted for the tax bill. I disagree with him on some of the stuff that matters most to me. And yes, he's not running for re-election, so he's free from having to worry about competing for the conservative base in a Republican primary. He's got nothing to lose. Well, nothing to lose except his integrity.
I hate that I feel like I have to list those caveats before saying this: his support of Doug Jones was both important and courageous, and he should be applauded. Yes, supporting Jones should be obvious. Yes, what Roy Moore has done is disgusting and immoral and there is no place for it in our society, let alone in our government. Yes, Jeff Flake shouldn't be standing alone as the only sitting Republican Senator to support Jones.
But, somehow Jeff Flake is standing alone -- in defiance of the President of the United States and the Republican National Committee.
So while it's true that Flake has served as a Republican, it's also true that one of his final acts as a member of the United States Senate, and one of the acts that I will remember most, was to take a difficult but decent stance -- not just against Roy Moore, but for Doug Jones.
It inspired me. I would not have donated to Doug Jones if it wasn't for Flake's donation. It was a small reminder that this is a big deal. This is no time to sit on the sidelines.
There haven't been many races like this in my lifetime, where the contrast is so stark and the symbolic (and real) significance so monumental. Doug Jones is an honorable man who successfully prosecuted Klansmen for murdering four black children in a church bombing, what Martin Luther King, Jr. called "one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity." Doug Jones put the sick criminals in prison.
Moore, on the other hand, represents literally the worst we have to offer. Beyond the obvious fact that Roy Moore preys on children, he's also a morally bankrupt human. He is anti-LGBT, anti-freedom of religion, anti-law and order (he was literally booted from the Alabama Supreme Court for refusing to uphold federal law), and anti-science. He's anti-preschool. He literally said the last time America was great was during slavery.
It's stunning and repulsive and shameful and embarrassing. He is a radical by any definition of the word.
There's an often-repeated line, particularly when a single Democrat is running against a single Republican, that elections are about choosing between the lesser of two evils. Other times, people say there's no difference between the two candidates. In almost all instances, I think those are ridiculous, untrue statements.
Never have they been less true, though, than the race between Jones and Moore in Alabama.
Most pundits think Moore is going to win. The election is in less than a week, which means you only have a few days left send a little money to Doug Jones. This seems like the type of moment that kids or grandkids will ask about someday. "Where were you when all this was happening? What did you do?" they might ask.
Jeff Flake and I didn't do much -- but we did do something. I hope you'll join us.