Roy Moore’s supporters know who the real victim is in the scandal enveloping the Alabama GOP Senate candidate. After Moore was accused of pursuing relationships with multiple teenage girls while in his 20s and 30s—including a 14-year-old he allegedly groped—his brother, Jerry, claimed his sibling was being “persecuted like Jesus Christ.” (See Main Stories.) Local Republicans rallied to the former judge’s defense, arguing that a faithful Christian conservative was being smeared by an unholy alliance of establishment Republicans, Democrats, and liberal journalists. Conservative commentator Erick Erickson says he can’t blame so many Alabamians for sticking with their candidate. The bullying Left wants to banish re ligion from public life, he says, and brainwash their kids “into thinking girls can be boys.” In this high-stakes culture war, Erickson argues, these voters feel they must overlook a fellow Christian’s less-than-saintly behavior rather than hand a victory to the secular enemy.
Many Americans share this victim complex. According to a Pew Research Poll, 64 percent of voters think that their group has been losing most of the time. Liberal college students feel so endangered that they’ve created safe spaces to escape opposing views. The National Rifle Association promotes a dark vision of a world where law-abiding gun owners are under siege by gungrabbing politicians. Even President Trump, arguably the most powerful man on the planet, has embraced victimhood, with constant complaints about his portrayal in the media. “No politician in history,” he said in May, “has been treated worse or more unfairly.” This grievance culture is only accelerating society’s polarization. Defining yourself as a victim means never having to admit your own failures, and never needing to engage with your critics or opponents—who are, after all, out to cause you harm. In a nation where everything comes down to Us vs. Them, there can be no winners.