BOTTLE IT

1. It’s Wednesday, December 13, 2017.

At the moment, the AccuWeather real feel temperature here in New York’s northern suburbs is zero degrees F.

This is not the only evidence that hell froze over last night.

2. No way does a Democrat succeed Jeff Sessions in the United States Senate from Alabama. No way.

Except that it’s going to happen.

A lot is being made of how bad a candidate Roy Moore was. Starting first, foremost and disqualifyingly, with the accusations about his conduct.

Moore never dispelled or convincingly refuted the accusations that, when he was in his 30s, he pursued teenage girls – to the extent that a mall banned him for being such a predator.

Maybe his true believers accepted his response. His detractors believed the accusations without question.

The people without prejudice weighed the evidence and rendered a verdict.

There are other reasons Moore stinks. Not everybody, even in a state as conservative as Alabama, is willing to put the Ten Commandments over the Constitution in determining what’s law. There were no mitigating factors to slavery.

But here’s the thing: Moore only lost by about 20,000 votes. That’s not a lot when about 1.3 million votes are cast.

That means that Alabama is a state that wants so desperately to go Republican that it’s willing to overlook Moore’s flaws.

3. And that’s where Doug Jones comes in.

Jones, a former federal prosecutor, honed a campaign that blended national Democratic values with the realities of Alabama. And I can’t remember him campaigning against Trump by name.

The idea is to create an identity for yourself. To create the so-called “big tent” that enough Republicans, disgusted by Moore, could get under.

The result speaks for itself. Jones embraced his African-American voters – his record putting some of the 1963 Birmingham church bombers in prison to rot certainly burnished his credentials. And he didn’t scare white people who are naturally conservative but not racists.

Democrats across the country need to look at Doug Jones in Alabama, and remember last month’s gubernatorial winners – Ralph Northam in Virginia and Phil Murphy in New Jersey.

These aren’t flamethrowers. They don’t focus on Trump any more than they have to – Murphy certainly did a little more of that in New Jersey than the others.

They won because they responded to the places where they live and ran. They got to know the people. They embraced them. They didn’t take any group for granted.

One more thing – the winners so far have been decent people. People with a record of doing good by people. Jones prosecuted terrorists. Northam was an Army medical officer and is a pediatric neurosurgeon. Murphy founded a teen helpline.

Democrats must recruit men and women of character and integrity.

Emphasis on women. It’s time. There are so many brilliant, creative, compassionate women in all the major professions – I’ve been blessed to work with so many in 40 years as a journalist.

These people need to be running things. To be shaping society and responding to its needs.

No, no one should vote for someone just because they’re a man or woman. But yes, they should have the diversity of life experience to inform their judgments.

Character, integrity and core beliefs that empower people. Democrats need to put the Jones/Northam/Murphy wins in a bottle and sprinkle the mixture around the nation.

Today feels good, the cold notwithstanding. We need to feel this way more often.

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