On the surface, Jefferson Beauregard “Jeff” Sessions III, seems to be a reasonable choice for a cabinet pick. He has ample political experience, having served in varying capacities in Alabama’s government since 1981, and he is 15th in seniority in the United States Senate. So it has to be conceded that he knows his job and is not a mere wacky pretender like Betsy DeVos or Steve Bannon. Still, what makes Senator Sessions so repugnant, especially for the role of Attorney General, is the deeply racist and homophobic stances he has taken in the past.
When the new President first selected Sessions as the Attorney General nominee, news organizations were quick to point out that the United States Senate had deemed him too racist, rejecting his nomination for a federal judgeship in 1986. It has been reported that Sessions once joked that his only problem with the KKK was their alleged use of marijuana. He also reportedly called the NAACP:
One can’t help being reminded of David Duke, the former Grand Wizard of the KKK, and an enthusiastic supporter of the new President. Americans everywhere rose up in outrage when Duke ran for president in 1992 and Duke supported the new President during his failed bid last year for Senate in Louisiana.
There are many who feel that past public statements are more than enough to justify the exclusion of Sessions from the Presidential Cabinet. But amid this rehashing of his past, there has been little focus on the future. A dialogue on how Sessions is likely to change Department of jJustice policy is necessary. For example, as Attorney General, Sessions would be in charge of prosecuting all federal hate crimes across the country. It is hard to imagine him doing so with much zeal or enthusiasm, as Sessions has shown open hostility toward hate crime laws in the past. U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) raised serious concerns regarding awards and endorsements Sessions has received from various hate groups, including the David Horowitz Freedom Center, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, and The Center For Security Policy.
After becoming the first sitting United States Senator to endorse the new President’s candidacy in February, 2016, Sessions quickly became the top adviser on virtually all major decisions and policy proposals made during the campaign. Sessions and his senior aide, Stephen Miller, now a senior adviser to the new President, helped outline the campaign’s immigration policy. Sessions also was the chairman of the campaign’s national security advisory committee. Clearly it is the loyalty to the man, not the suitability for the position, that is being rewarded.
As attorney general, Sessions will hold the reins of the law itself. His position will make him the chief law enforcement officer and chief lawyer in the entirety of the United States government. If the attorney general is compromised by vile and vicious ideology, of the sort that led to such historical atrocities as slavery and the Holocaust, it could trickle down and pervade the administration of justice held by every courtroom in America. It will be a scar on our national honor, and a step back into savagery for the human race in general.
In 1935, Sinclair Lewis wrote It Can’t Happen Here, a book about the rise of a homegrown dictator with the banal name of Buzz, who forms an authoritarian government taking power in America, busting up Congress, and at last beginning a civil war. In this book, Lewis places emphasis toward the conception of fascism and totalitarianism, in terms of traditional American political models. The point of the book, then and now, was to tell us that it can happen here, and that in fact it probably will, if we aren’t diligent in maintaining an honorable value system, and holding everyone accountable to it, especially those to whom we entrust the power to govern our lives. If goodwill towards all mankind is absent in a person, then so is the mandate of heaven.
For these reasons, Jeff Sessions has no business whatsoever to be the the next Attorney General of the United States.