Thumbs up to Alabama voters

We join the state of Alabama in celebrating Doug Jones’ election to the United States Senate. Jones, most recently U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, is perhaps best known for prosecuting the remaining two Ku Klux Klan perpetrators of the infamous 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, killing four young girls and injuring 22 others.

In accepting his historic win, Jones made clear the kind of unifying senator he wants to be for his state and nation. He did not wallow in the tawdry charges and counter charges levied at his opponent, pronouncing that the election was not about the personalities of either candidate. Rather, he said, the election was about the rule of law, common courtesy, and respect. He congratulated his fellow Alabamians for showing the country that people in our nation can, indeed, be unified around important principles.

Although Alabama and the nation are indebted to the large turnout of African-American women and men who supported Sen.-elect Jones (30 percent of the electorate was black and voted their near unanimous support for Jones in numbers greater than the presidential elections of 2008 and 2012), Jones underscored the importance of every Alabama community’s participation in the electoral process. A refreshing side note in this special senatorial election is that the actual turnout doubled the estimated 20 percent of voters projected to be at the polls.

Looking forward, not backward, Jones has challenged the colleagues he soon will be joining in the Senate by asking them to “… take this election from the great state of Alabama … where the people of Alabama said we want to get something done, we want you to find common ground, we want you to talk. Take this opportunity in light of this election and go ahead and fund that CHIP program before I get up there.”

We could not agree more with sense of urgency the senator-elect places on funding the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a critically important program here in Pennsylvania and across the country.

And isn’t it a relief to know that we will be spared the unproductive and exhausting controversies that would have lived on ad nauseam had Jones lost this election? As he told his fellow Alabamians, “Tonight is a night for rejoicing because … as Dr. King liked to quote, ‘The moral arc of the universe is long but it bends toward justice.’ Tonight, tonight, ladies and gentlemen … you helped bend that moral arc a little closer to that justice.” We welcome these words and thoughts and hope they set an example for others to follow, Republicans and Democrats alike.

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