Once considered a theocratic zealot of almost cartoonish proportions, Moore’s primary victory over traditional Republican Luther Strange demonstrated that not even Trump himself (who initially backed Strange) could prevent the party’s rightward shift toward authoritarian nationalism.

Then, as if to test the proposition, a new, jaw-dropping threshold was crossed when even charges of pedophilia failed to end Moore’s candidacy. Indeed, Moore went on to receive the endorsement of both Trump and the Republican National Committee after the accusations became public. This is a result of the steadfast support Moore received from his base in Alabama, but also of his rising stature as a symbol of a new era in Republican politics.

The most recognizable champion of right-wing populism in the United States, Stephen K. Bannon, put his considerable weight and that of his website Breitbart behind Moore. Bannon sees Moore as the kind of insurgent candidate who can help upend the Republican establishment from below while Trump does so from above, replacing the status quo with “a populist-nationalist party realignment that can govern for the next 50 years,” as Bannon is fond of saying.