By Rep. Will Ainsworth
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word “statesman” as “a wise, skillful, and respected political leader.”
Throughout its history, Alabama has produced scores of politicians, but our true statesmen have been few and far between.
Jeff Sessions is a statesman.
Throughout his public service career as a US Attorney, Alabama’s Attorney General, a US Senator, and, now, as our nation’s Attorney General, Sessions has served with integrity, determination, effectiveness, and a genial and gentlemanly nature that earned him respect from friend and foe alike.
In those various roles, each more prominent than the last, Sessions left a lasting mark.
While a US Attorney serving under President Ronald Reagan, Sessions filed civil rights charges against Ku Klux Klan members who murdered a 20-year-old African-American man in Mobile. And, at the urging of African-American voters who were tired of the criminal abuse that they alleged commonly occurred in elections, he sought to stop absentee ballot fraud that was prevalent in Alabama’s Black Belt region.
Elected as Alabama’s Attorney General in 1994, he defended state law and worked to preserve local funding for local school districts at a time when liberal activists pushed for a Robin Hood allocation model.
In 1996, voters chose him to succeed Howell Heflin in the US Senate, and this is perhaps where Session left his brightest and most indelible mark to date. Shortly after taking office, Sessions began highlighting the issue of illegal immigration which, until that time, had largely gone unnoticed.
Sessions pushed for laws and policies that sought to plug the holes in our southern border and stop the flow of illegal immigrants that continually funneled into the United States. While liberal Democrats and moderate Republicans worked to create a path to citizenship and legitimize those who break our laws with their simple presence, Sessions was a voice of common sense resolve and an advocate for immigration enforcement.
As a result, left-wing groups seeking to shield illegal aliens and liberal columnists who view the world through a Socialist prism hurled tremendous invective and false accusations of intolerance at Sessions, who rightly maintained his hardline, law-and-order stance despite the attacks.
It can be argued that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was built on the solid foundation that Sessions laid for him as a senator. Many of the issues that Trump promoted and espoused on the campaign trail, including the construction of an impenetrable border wall, were the same ones that Sessions had previously advocated in numerous speeches on the Senate floor.
That is likely why Sessions surprised many in Washington and brought a new and higher level of legitimacy to the Trump crusade by becoming the first US senator to endorse his candidacy while attending a rally in Huntsville.
From that point forward, Sessions was never far from Trump’s side as he offered valuable advice and counsel. Many of the most significant hiring announcements in the Trump campaign, and later in the White House transition period, involved current and former members of Sessions’ staff or other allies he suggested.
Reportedly offered his choice of any cabinet post after Trump’s victory shocked the fake news media and dissolved many Clinton supporters in tears, Sessions asked to serve as attorney general, a role with which he was already familiar and one in which he would cast a large shadow.
Since taking leadership of the Justice Department, Sessions has kickstarted initiatives to combat the opioid crisis and stop the scourge of drugs that destroys lives and tears families apart. He has drawn a line in the sand against so-called “sanctuary cities” who work to shield illegals from the laws they ignore. And he has declared war against the violent and dangerous “Mara Salva-trucha” international gang, better known as MS-13, whose footprint reaches even into portions of rural Alabama.
I strongly support President Trump and his agenda. In fact, if he asked for volunteers to start building his border wall tomorrow, I would be stacking bricks in Texas by sundown.
At the same time, I strongly support and stand beside Jeff Sessions, who remains a committed and trusted member of the president’s team and has the potential to be considered among the greatest Attorneys General in our nation’s history.
The rest of the country is beginning to learn what we in Alabama have known for quite some time – Jeff Sessions is no politician, but, rather, he is a statesman to his core.
Will Ainsworth, a small business owner in Guntersville, Alabama, represents portions of Marhsall, DeKalb, and Blount counties in the Alabama House of Representatives. He is a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in the 2018 election cycle.