If you were to ask me what my biggest issue with the president is, I would answer that it’s his expectation of blind, almost fanatical loyalty from his staff. Jeff Sessions’ campaign to reclaim his position as the senator from Alabama has consisted of little policy discussion and lots of apologies for crossing President Trump, even though that’s the only thing he really did “wrong.” Sessions’ Republican primary opponents know they can’t beat him on policy, so they resort to attacking him and painting him as “Anti-Trump.” The truth is that Sessions was Trump before Trump, and, without Sessions, the Donald Trump presidency would be nothing but a punchline for late night television.
Amidst the hotly contested Democratic presidential race, the Alabama Republican primary has slipped under the national radar. I’ve been paying attention to the aforementioned senate seat since Roy Moore lost it in Dec. 2017. Senator Doug Jones is easily the most vulnerable senator up for reelection, and this time, he likely won’t be up against the only Republican that could lose the seat. If no Republican candidate gets 50% of the vote tonight, the top two candidates will advance to a runoff. Polling suggests this will be the case, and that Sessions and former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville will advance to the second round. The tired phrase “referendum on Trump” in mind, the election will be an interesting metric of whether it is loyalty to Trump, or loyalty to Trump’s policies that Republican voters want in their representatives.
In Feb. 2016, when his colleagues still thought “President Trump” sounded as ridiculous as pineapple on pizza, Sessions endorsed Trump’s candidacy. This was incredibly valuable, as it gave credibility to Trump’s populist, conservative platform. Many people didn’t believe Trump was serious about anything, let alone stemming illegal, and sometimes legal, immigration. An endorsement from Sessions, who the right-wing National Review labeled “Amnesty’s worst enemy,” legitimized his platform. Long before Trump entered the fray, Sessions decried the elites, the so called “masters of the universe,” who were so far removed from working class America they saw no problem with driving the working American’s wages down with amnesty for the sake of their own bottom line.
Without the support of Sessions, a figure with a record of victories for the Trump agenda before it was even conceived, there would not be a President Donald Trump. I hope President Trump keeps that in mind when he’s deciding which candidate to endorse.
Unfortunately, I don’t expect the president to make the right call this time. He spent the entirety of Sessions’ tenure as attorney general trashing him for doing nothing wrong. It would have been against Department of Justice rules for Sessions to participate in any criminal investigation involving the president because of his close relationship with him on the campaign trail.
Meanwhile, Tuberville, the likely runoff opponent for Sessions, was recorded supporting the amnesty that Trump and Sessions believe hurts the American worker. Trump’s advisors have likely told him to stay quiet for now. He’s shown uncharacteristic restraint in not attacking Sessions, and the last time he got involved in an Alabama Senate race, both of his supported candidates lost. Nonetheless, Tuberville’s attacks on Sessions caused the Alabama Senate race to devolve into a search for the president’s greatest admirer.
Supporters of the populist agenda should support Sessions. Although the president doesn’t seem to like him, he has a proven record of winning the president’s policy battles, connections to and support of established Senate Republicans and a consistent principled history. Even if the president won’t admit he was wrong about Sessions, it is the responsibility of the voters to return him to the Senate, where he never should have left.
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Dev Chojar is a contributor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.