The Republican majority in the Senate dropped from a marginal 52-48 seats to a dangerously thin 51-49 this week, after Democrat Doug Jones beat former judge Roy Moore in deep red Alabama.

And Republicans everywhere — even in Alabama — should be heaving a sigh of relief. That loss is better — much better — than a win for the long-term health and credibility of the party. It is hard to overstate how toxic Moore’s presence in the Senate would have been for Republicans, especially between now and the November 2018 mid-term elections.

An investigation into the multiple sexual misconduct allegations against him would have, as they say, taken up all the oxygen in the room for weeks, if not months. Every time a vote of any significance was pending, Republicans would be asked if they were going to vote the same way as the accused pedophile in their midst, and if so, why.

And, of course, every mid-term race in the country would be framed as a Democratic moral beacon opposing the pedophile party.

It doesn’t matter, even though it should, that Democrats aren’t moral beacons any more than Republicans are. It doesn’t matter that to this day, serial sexual predator Bill Clinton remains a beloved icon of their party, and that his accusers were smeared as trailer trash and liars by his operatives and by his wife, Hillary Clinton. You remember her — she was last year’s Democratic candidate for president.

It doesn’t matter that Democrats forcing Minnesota Sen. Al Franken into a promise to resign following multiple allegations of sexual misconduct had nothing to do with “standing up for women.”

Do you think for a minute that if the governor of Minnesota was a Republican — who would then appoint a Republican replacement to serve until November — that Democratic support for Franken would have collapsed? Not a chance. They would all have been talking about “due process” and pointing out that most of the allegations hadn’t been proven and that Franken didn’t “remember” the encounters the way the women did.

No, that move is all about strategy and power — claiming the high moral ground with a wink, since the seat will remain safely in Democratic hands.

It doesn’t even matter that the sexual allegations against Moore are from decades ago and that, yes, the media mostly sat on them until after Moore had won the primary.

What matters is that a win by Moore would have helped Democrats, aided by an openly supportive mainstream media, to cruise to an even more overwhelming “wave” election next fall than what is looming now.

And that is because Moore is toxic in multiple ways beyond creepy sexual inclinations. Most importantly, he has demonstrated that he has no respect for the rule of law, or even for the Constitution.

You probably didn’t hear all that much about it during the campaign because all the focus was on sexual misconduct, but he has been removed from the Alabama Supreme Court twice.

In 2003, it was because he refused to comply with a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the courthouse. And then, 12 years later, he was suspended after he ordered Alabama probate judges not to issue same-sex marriage licenses — six months after the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled it legal, in June 2015.

It is fine — even laudable — for anyone including judges to protest against and work to change laws they think are despicable. Recall the Democrats’ favorite line when a Republican is president or a state’s governor is that “dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”

But when you’re a judge, you leave such protests outside the courthouse. Your job is to uphold the law — all the laws, whether you agree with them or not. What Moore did wasn’t “standing up to Washington.” It was standing in opposition to the rule of law. We should all give thanks that we live in a country where a single judge can’t unilaterally decide to ignore that.

At a minimum, Moore’s stance undermines Republicans’ past legitimate objections when President Obama unilaterally decided he would selectively enforce immigration laws.

Then there is the Constitution itself. Moore has said, not famously enough (it would have become much more famous had he been elected), that he’d like to see all the constitutional amendments after the Tenth Amendment eliminated.

That, as a few principled conservatives have pointed out, would end the prohibition on slavery, revoke women’s right to vote and end equal protection of the law.

And, as was noted in the days before the election, Moore thinks the country was great back when slavery existed, because “families were united.”

Anybody who looks longingly back at one of the most odious and regrettable eras in America is not fit to serve in any elective office. Moore not only thinks it but was dumb enough to say it out loud.

Conservatives everywhere — Alabama and beyond — who want smaller, leaner and less intrusive government, lower taxes, enforcement of existing laws (including immigration laws), less crushing regulation and more personal freedom have a powerful case to make to their fellow citizens.

That message resonates even in the face of a hostile mainstream media.

But they also send a powerful message when they support a candidate like Moore, excusing the many reasons he doesn’t belong in public office just because there is an “R” next to his name.

That kind of hypocrisy is one of the main reasons the Democrats have been the minority party in Congress for the past seven years. Alabama should be a warning to Republicans that the same thing can happen to them.

Taylor Armerding is an independent columnist. Contact him at t.armerding@verizon.net.

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