As the future Cabinet of President-Elect Donald Trump begins to take shape, it is becoming clear that the incoming chief executive has a high regard for some people who are truly odious. Jeff Sessions, Trump's pick for the important post of Attorney General, is a case in point.
Jeff Sessions has been a United States senator from Alabama for the past two decades. During that time he has made a name for himself as a denier of climate science, opposer of all immigration bills that contained a path to citizenship, and fighter against amnesty for individuals who entered the country illegally. In fact, the conservative publication, National Review, went so far as to name Jeff Session's "amnesty's worst enemy."
Sessions, like many Republicans, is a contradiction unto himself when it comes to government spending. He opposes the government spending beyond its means, yet has always been a faithful cheerleader for increased military spending.
Human rights aren't Jeff Sessions' strong suit either. He once opposed a legislative amendment that would have barred "cruel, inhumane, or degrading" treatment of prisoners.
But it is in the area of race relations where the most disturbing image of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions begins to emerge. In 1986 Sessions, then a U.S. Attorney in Alabama, was nominated for a Federal judgeship. When he appeared before the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. Senate for his confirmation hearings, he was dogged by accusations of racism. One former aide to Sessions, a black lawyer, reported that Sessions had routinely called him "boy" during the time they had worked together - a charge Sessions denied - and a witness reported that Sessions has once commented that he thought the Ku Klux Klan was okay until he learned that they smoked pot. Other colleagues said that he often used the "n-word" in his conversations. The Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee eventually denied Sessions the judgeship based on the information that was presented during the hearings.
It is in the area of race relations where the strongest concerns with Jeff Sessions still reside. Yesterday a group of representatives of the NAACP held a sit-in in Session's office in Mobile, Alabama. The group included the NAACP national president, Cornell William Brooks, as well as the president of the Alabama NAACP, and four other members of the group. In addition to highlighting the candidate's racist past, Cornell William Brooks, had this to say about Sessions:
"We have an attorney general nominee who does not acknowledge the reality of voter suppression, while mouthing faith in the myth of voter fraud."
Brooks' concerns highlight a very real crisis that is emerging in American governance. Individual states are busy enacting legislation designed specifically to keep the poor and minorities from voting, and they are justifying these "voter i.d." laws based on exaggerated fears of voter fraud. Donald Trump is trying to slough off his nearly three million vote loss to Hillary Clinton in the popular vote by claiming a "massive" voter fraud. Trump is lying, and the state legislatures are lying. Voter fraud in the United States is minuscule. The real fraud is being perpetrated by state legislatures as they try to freeze certain groups of people out of the democratic process.
The agency responsible for stepping in to protect the rights of the unfairly disenfranchised is the United States Department of Justice - under the control and direction of the Attorney General of the United States. If Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, III, is the Attorney General, then the poor and the people of color who are unjustly removed from voter rolls are screwed.
It's as simple as that.
The United States Senate needs to step forward, do its duty, and reject Jeff Sessions as the next Attorney General of the United States.