CATHAY: Why not Jeff Sessions in 2016?

CATHAY: Why not Jeff Sessions in 2016?

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Jeff Sessions/Wikimedia

WASHINGTON, August 5, 2014 — Why not Senator Jefferson B. Sessions for president in 2016?

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve heard this question expressed by both friends and acquaintances, including by some folks I thought I’d never hear mention a Republican, much less a conservative Southerner, for the nation’s highest office. Yet, that’s been on the lips of my neighbors in my barely-middle class, semi-rural area of Wake County, North Carolina. And it’s come not just from conservative or “tea party” Republicans, but also from independents and the few Democrats who still survive here in eastern North Carolina.

The soft-spoken but highly principled Alabamian is becoming much better known these days. Perhaps it’s because he stands out among all the intellectually pusillanimous, bought-and-paid-for, pygmies who inhabit the halls of Congress these days? Above all, his forthright position on not just curbing, but completely halting, illegal immigration, protecting American jobs for American citizens, and his willingness to openly and reasonably state what most of his fellow senators seem afraid to say, has won him praise across the nation (as well as nasty attacks from the “open borders” lobby).

To Obama and his threat to go over the heads of Congress and use an unconstitutional executive order to “fix” the immigration crisis, Sessions has warned the president that he is “playing with fire,” and such an action “would be an incredibly reckless and dangerous act that would cause great turmoil in the constitutional order.”

On July 27 when the House of Representatives was in the middle of considering a bill to deal with the present immigration crisis on the Rio Grande and southern border, Sessions spoke boldly and pointedly to his fellow Republicans. The amended House bill that was eventually passed, as most observers noted, was largely “political” theater, with very little chance of being enacted by the US Senate, which had already left town for its generous August break.  (Don’t you just love it when, in the midst of perhaps the worst crisis to afflict this benighted nation in years, that the Senate leaves town for a break?)

But even the measure that was finally enacted, as some observers noted, only came about because of influence that Sessions exerted with House members to improve an earlier, much weaker House leadership initiative.  Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), the new House Majority Whip, privately blamed Sessions’ opposition for “causing last-second problems leading up to the planned vote.” Many House Republicans refused to support the original bill after Sessions lobbied them, since the original Republican leadership bill did “not itself contain language to freeze Obama from expanding his unilateral deferrals.”

To both the House and his fellow senators, Sessions has stated that he is “flabbergasted” that some Republicans in the establishment do not oppose Obama’s amnesty agenda or want to split the differences.

He adds that his fellow elected politicians must “not yield to the corporate titans who think they can bring in an unlimited number of foreign workers” for cheaper labor and without consequences.  In particular, Sessions was taking aim at the US Chamber of Commerce and groups like the Farm Bureau who have been pushing for porous borders —groups that have supported the disastrously dangerous John McCain/Lindsey Graham “Gang of Eight” proposal.

On Monday, August 4, Fox News “talking heads” Charles Krauthammer and George Will repeated the neoconservative/McCain/Lindsey Graham mantra about the immigration crisis and the issue of illegal immigration. While demonstrating the accustomed anger directed at Obama’s presumed connivance in this crisis, the solution Krauthammer proposes would be a “secure border fence, followed by a ‘generous’ approach to the eleven million illegals already here”—in other words, amnesty.

What is it about the word “illegal” that these so-called “conservative opinion makers” don’t understand?

They respond: “But you just can’t deport eleven million people!”  But, indeed, you can enact legislation that would make staying here much less attractive, from insuring that available jobs go to citizens and legal immigrants who follow the law, by limiting educational opportunities available to illegals, by clamping down on welfare and assistance programs, and by efficient and rapid deportations.

Jeff Sessions understands this; he understands that there are millions of American young folks, especially black males, who cannot get jobs because they are undercut by Mexicans and others who have taken those positions. He understands the situation of my neighbor, a self-employed house painter, who on most days now has little work: he can’t compete with illegal labor who’ll do those jobs he used to do and do them more cheaply and without the formerly-necessary paperwork. Several years back my neighbor could take a subcontracting job and hire two or three young apprentices, and make a decent income for his family. But today my neighbor is behind several months on his mortgage, and he may lose his house. Years ago he voted straight Democrat; now he’s left them in disgust, but he’s not yet convinced that the Republicans are much better, and John McCain and the Wall Street/Chamber of Commerce cabal don’t reassure him.

Just about every other potential Republican candidate for 2016 has made his peace with the immigration lobby and with “big business” and the Chamber of Commerce, whose funds percolate infectiously through the veins of the GOP.  Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, even Rand Paul, have all “gotten the memo”: lower the volume on immigration, don’t talk too loudly. Never mind that this IS the topic that most Americans are discussing at the dinner table, or after church, or in the doctor’s office. Never mind that this is the most serious crisis directly affecting the country in decades, far more important that John McCain’s or Bob Corker’s desire to get us into a shooting war with Russia over Ukraine, or assist some non-existent “moderates” fighting in Syria’s civil war.

Indeed, unlike twenty-six of his Senate Republican colleagues, Jeff Sessions did not sign on to co-sponsor the so-called Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014, which, if enacted, would very likely get the United States into a shooting war with Russia.  While he supported our initial incursion into Iraq, Sessions also has demonstrated more prudence on such issues than most of his fellow Republicans.

Jeff Sessions, if he got into the presidential sweepstakes and by some fortuitous act of fate, were elected president in 2016, would be the same age as Ronald Reagan (69) when he was elected. At his age, Reagan didn’t do too badly, and given the panoply of GOP “papabile” now parading across Iowa and New Hampshire, Senator Sessions would stand taller than all of them.

The major news media, including Fox News, never tire of telling us that we are witnessing an immense “humanitarian crisis” along our southern border. Certainly, no one desires to gratuitously injure thousands of children dumped across the border by the drug cartel profiteers (and with the unspoken assent by the Obama administration). But what about the “humanitarian crisis” in Detroit? Or, for that matter, in most major US cities? What about the millions of unemployed Americans, especially the young black males, who are passed over for jobs? What about a welfare and educational system already gravely overextended and greatly stressed?

And finally, what about the question that subsists throughout this discussion: what about the undesired but progressive invasion and transformation of our culture?  How many small towns in North Carolina or in other states have seen the stability, the social structure, the culture they once had, disappear into something unrecognizable? Heightened crime, the prevalence of violent gangs, increased drugs, imported diseases—these are just a few of the negative by-products of this new invasive culture.

For a number of years I studied in grad school in Spain, later teaching in Argentina. I am fluent in Spanish and greatly admire Hispanic culture (I wrote my Ph.D. dissertation in Spanish). But when I lived in those countries, I never sought to impose my customs upon the society where I lived. I never asked for welfare or special privileges from those host countries. And, most importantly, I obeyed the laws.

Americans are a charitable people, but the old saying “charity begins at home” is never truer than in this present crisis. How many people do we know—like my house painter neighbor—who are just managing to scrape by? Yet, my home county, like many across the nation, spends millions of taxpayer dollars on “free medical care” for illegals and for schooling their children, while they take jobs away from citizens who follow the law.

I think Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions understands these concerns. He has led, at times, a lonely battle in Washington for legal working people, middle and lower middle class citizens, and—for my neighbor. That message would resonate.

Maybe it’s time to say: Jeff Sessions for president….

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Boyd Cathey
Boyd D. Cathey holds a doctorate in European history from the Catholic University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain, where he was a Richard Weaver Fellow, and an MA in intellectual history from the University of Virginia (as a Jefferson Fellow). He was assistant to conservative author and philosopher the late Russell Kirk. In more recent years he served as State Registrar of the North Carolina Division of Archives and History. He has published in French, Spanish, and English, on historical subjects as well as classical music and opera. He is active in the Sons of Confederate Veterans and various historical, archival, and genealogical organizations.