It was Alabama that won on Tuesday night, at least that’s what the pundits are saying.
They’re also using words like “shocking” and “stunning” when they describe Doug Jones’ victory over Roy Moore.
That’s because they’d stereotyped Alabamians as stupid, crooked people who get more stupid and crooked when they’re faced with a clear moral choice.
Heck, stereotyping Alabama and Alabamians is easy to do — and entertaining. I should know. I was raised in Alabama, which I like to think gives me the license to make fun of Alabama, and the people who live there — and OK, I admit it — myself and my family too. (But not you, Mom.)
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On Tuesday, most of the rest of America believed two things: (1) Doug Jones was the clear choice in the Alabama senate election, and (2) the state they’d always stereotyped would make the wrong choice, because, you know, the people in Alabama are crooked and stupid.
In a way, they were right about how it would turn out. When the smoke cleared, 50.1 percent of voters in Alabama had voted for somebody besides Doug Jones. Nothing shocking or stunning there.
But an interesting thing happened. Nearly 23,000 people — or 1.7 percent of Alabama voters — wrote in somebody else’s name, which means they voted against Roy Moore.
They couldn’t and wouldn’t approve of his alleged behavior. But they had a problem: They hate Democrats. Which is why they wrote in somebody besides Doug Jones.
This reminds me of an Auburn fan who — true story — went to Tuscaloosa during the Cold War to watch the Crimson Tide play the Soviet Union in basketball.
He couldn’t and wouldn’t root for the Tide. In fact, he purchased a hammer-and-sickle flag and waved it during the game. But he didn’t surrender his position as a God-fearing capitalist, so he wasn’t exactly favoring the U.S.S.R. over the United States. He was just hating on the University of Alabama.
And that’s how we roll, here in the South.
A couple of weeks ago, when Vanderbilt beat Tennessee, a reporter asked Commodore running back Ralph Webb what it felt like to become Vandy’s all-time leading rusher.
Ralph said that individual goals didn’t matter. What mattered was…
Nope. What mattered was giving Tennessee a record eighth SEC loss. He said this as he shook hands with a Volunteer linebacker.
Ah, good old-fashioned hate.
This, of course, is nothing new. A couple of years ago, when Will Muschamp was at the helm of Florida, he took the Gators to Knoxville and pulled off a last-second victory.
When a reporter told him he must be thrilled to win, Muschamp shook his head and pointed to the dejected orange-clad fans streaming out of Neyland Stadium.
He wasn’t happy he won, he said. He was happy Tennessee had lost. And then he cackled maniacally. Now he’s the highest paid government employee in South Carolina not named Dabo Swinney.
The great coaches, including Nick Saban and Bill Belichick, seem to hate losing more than they love winning.
And isn’t that what happened on Tuesday? The folks who usually voted red weren’t going to suddenly vote blue, because they still wanted to see the Democrats lose.
So they voted green and beige and magenta. Kind of like what happened last year in November, but with a different party reaping the benefits.
That’ll show ’em.