Should conservatives vote for Roy Moore?

On Tuesday, the good people of Alabama will decide whether to vote for Roy Moore, the Republican candidate who is accused of multiple accounts of inappropriate sexual contact with underage girls. Beside Moore on the ballot is Doug Jones, a pro-abortion candidate who generally supports the policies associated with his party’s secular progressive platform.

Should the good Republicans of Alabama vote for Moore, for Jones, or for a write-in candidate?

Should conservatives across the nation support Moore or speak out against his candidacy?

GOP leaders are divided.

Some Republican leaders support Moore’s candidacy. President Trump, for example, supports Moore because, “The future of this country cannot afford to lose a seat in the very, very close United States Senate.” Similarly, Alabama’s governor Kay Ivey argues that significant policy issues are more important than Moore’s past.

Other Republican leaders argue unequivocally that Alabamans should disown Moore. Cory Gardner, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, declared that “Roy Moore will never have the support of the senatorial committee. We will never endorse him. We won’t support him.” Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell says that Moore will “immediately” face a Senate Ethics Committee probe should he win. Speaker Paul Ryan has repeatedly called for Moore to drop out of the race.

What is best for our nation, for vulnerable women, and for the Republican party?

But GOP leaders are not the only people who must make up their minds about Moore. The good people of Alabama must cast their votes, and conservatives across the nation must make our voices heard on this matter of national significance.

Let’s face it: the Roy Moore situation is a sticky wicket.

Moore denies all charges, repeatedly declaring that he does not know the women and that the charges are malicious. And although Moore has not undergone trial and been found guilty, Americans do not have the luxury of waiting for a trial before the election is held. We must make a decision now, however tentative our judgment might be.

The weight of the evidence is against Moore. The testimony of the women seems generally persuasive. At least nine accusers have given their names and exposed themselves to tough questioning, knowing their testimony would cause them pain and public harassment. At least four of the women are Trump supporters, Republicans, or vocally devout Christians. Additionally, there are at least thirty persons who have corroborated details of the accusations.

On the one hand, if we do not support Moore, the nation will be stuck with a pro-abortion Democrat whose votes will line up fairly well with the secular progressive agenda. We will be giving ground to media outlets and personalities who have slighted conservatives and mocked us for decades. We might find ourselves with one less vote during the next Supreme Court Justice confirmation. Adding insult to injury, we’ll have to live with the knowledge that today’s left-wing moralists are yesterday’s supporters of Harasser-in-Chief Bill Clinton.

On the other hand, if we do support Moore, the short-term victory will come at a considerable cost to vulnerable women, our own integrity, and the long-term health of the GOP. The moment Moore is seated, his situation almost assuredly will be investigated by the Ethics Committee and might eventuate in a vote to censure or expel him. During mid-term elections, news media “will hang him around the neck of every Republican candidate as Democrats try to drive turnout” among women, independents, and younger voters who rightly think that personal character matters for public office.

Although a substantive case can be made for supporting Moore, the right thing is to withdraw support for his candidacy and send a resounding message to the nation.

In the words of Founding Father Noah Webster, “When a citizen gives his vote to a man of known immorality, he abuses his civic responsibility [and] betrays the interest of his country.”

In the words of Proverbs 14:34, “Righteousness exalts a nation.”

Although a public official’s private life does not always bear on his public office, and although public officials should not be held to unreasonable moral standards, the accusations against Moore are serious. If they are true, he preyed on the unprotected, treating them as objects or instruments of sexual gratification. And if so, he has not confessed or repented and thus his morally and legally indefensible acts should be politically devastating also.

Now is not the time for the GOP to change its long-standing conviction that personal character matters for public office. Now is not the time to send a message to younger voters, women, and independents that morality no longer matters in the GOP. Now is not the time to forsake all credibility in our rebukes of Kennedy, Clinton, Weinstein, Lauer, Franken, and others.

It is possible that Moore is innocent. I have always respected him personally and hope that, against appearances, he is vindicated. And yet, even if he is later shown to be innocent, support for him now would send the wrong signal in light of the overwhelming public perception that he is guilty.

What is best for our nation, for vulnerable women, and for the Republican party?

To embrace and act on the conviction that personal character matters for public office, that we will not elect to office candidates of whom there are serious questions or allegations concerning their respect for women, and that we are willing to write in a candidate, knowing that we will experience a short-term electoral setback in order to sustain our long-term integrity and viability.