Choice must include more than lesser of two evils

With Tuesday’s U.S. Senate election in Alabama looming closer, debate over whether Republican candidate Roy Moore assaulted a teenage waitress some 30 years ago is reaching new heights. The latest debate to bubble to the surface Friday focused even more national media attention — as if that’s even possible — on exploring whether Moore signed the yearbook of Beverly Nelson in 1977 or whether the signature and date were forged.

The political race between Moore and Democrat Doug Jones includes public claims from at least three women alleging decades-old sexual misconduct involving Moore. Last week, the race spilled over into a public spat with late-night TV talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel via social media, and physical pushing and shoving between Moore’s camp and news media covering his appearance at a political event.

Really? Is this what we’ve come to in American democracy?

Nelson’s attorney on Friday argued that a handwriting expert has confirmed that an inscription signed by Moore in Nelson’s 1977 yearbook is authentic. Moore’s campaign, however, says the accuser’s admission that she added the time and place of Moore’s yearbook inscription in her own handwriting undermines her entire story. The yearbook, now, has become key evidence supporting Nelson’s claim that the then-34-year-old prosecutor was a regular at the Olde Hickory House restaurant where Nelson worked as a teenager — and where she says he attacked her in his car after she accepted his offer of a ride home one cold winter night.

As Moore continues to deny even knowing Nelson, or the restaurant in Gadsden, for that matter, there has been more national media coverage of that yearbook signature than on any of the issues in the race.

With just days to go before Tuesday’s election, Moore is working frantically to discredit his accusers, and has been joined by many Republican office holders who are stressing the importance of keeping a Republican in the seat, particularly since a loss would leave the Senate facing a narrowing GOP majority from the already razor-thin 52-48 Republican advantage.

President Donald Trump on Friday urged voters to elect Moore, warning that America “cannot afford” to have a Democrat win the hard-fought campaign instead.

“We cannot afford, the future of this country cannot afford to lose the seat,” Trump told the crowd at a Pensacola, Fla., rally. Trump said Jones, Moore’s opponent, is a “liberal Democrat” who would be “completely controlled” by Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi in the House and Chuck Schumer in the Senate.

The fact of the matter is, Washington continues to be more divided and our nation’s future even more questionable as the lines in the sand become deeper and more pronounced with every passing day.

I was moved by words of a local letter writer that appeared in the Tribune Chronicle in recent weeks. Tim Santell of Kinsman said this:

“If Congress acted as one group instead of two parties fighting for power, they would be working for all Americans, not just special interest groups on each side of the aisle.”

I agree, and the Alabama Senate race paints a vivid example of Santell’s point.

We may never know the truth about what happened 30-plus years ago involving Moore and his women accusers. Sadly, voters in that state may know even less about where each candidate — Moore and Jones — stands on other political points and issues. Despite that, voters will head to the polls to decide next week.

In the traditionally conservative state and Republican stronghold, it’s likely Alabamans will cast their votes based on what they view as the lesser of two evils. It wasn’t too long ago many Americans made decisions in a presidential race based on the same premise.

I sincerely doubt that is what our forefathers had in mind when they formulated the democratic system they hoped would grow and benefit their fledgling nation.