Notorious racist and KKK supporter Jeff Sessions (R-AL) was just confirmed as the next Attorney General of the United States in a major defeat for the opposition to the Trump agenda. In a sign of the ever-increasing partisanship on Capitol Hill, the 52-47 vote was split almost exactly on partisan lines. Not a single Republican Senator had the human decency to stand up for justice and vote against Sessions, but Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-WV) broke ranks with the Democratic caucus and voted to confirm the conservative pariah.
Manchin, a Democratic holdover from the days before the Party’s old working class base was pulled away by the GOP idiocracy, has long had a record of voting against the party platform to appease the swarming hordes of fascists in his state. He has voted with Republicans on everything from looser gun control laws to tightening restrictions on abortion. Soon after Trump’s election he announced his intention to confirm the tremendously unpopular Sessions, and today he followed through on that betrayal of the Democratic Party and the American people.
As is so often the case in this post-Citizens United era, there are also hidden financial and nepotistic ties between Manchin and Sessions that likely contributed to the Senator’s enthusiastic support for the Alabama Senator. Manchin’s daughter just happens to be CEO of the pharmaceutical giant Mylan, the very same company currently under a Justice Department probe for price gouging of EpiPens. Sessions, with his solidly pro-business and anti-consumer conservative credentials, is likely to either drop the probe or settle on positive terms for Mylan, so it would be no surprise if some backroom dealmaking contributed to Manchin’s decision to back Sessions.
Indeed Manchin, who himself is no stranger to allegations of racism and KKK support, seems to be positioning himself as to become the top Democrat in Trump’s eyes, and corruption is clearly a positive trait in Trump’s eyes. And while bipartisanship is in theory a good thing, betraying the American people who have so much to loose under Trump’s neo-fascist administration for a little bit of a career boost and a few extra bucks from the coal barons back home is a truly despicable act. For the resistance to Trump to be successful, we must move beyond viewing this crisis as simply a black-and-white two party dichotomy.
We must do everything we can to support progressive Senators like Elizabeth Warren, whose moving evocation of Coretta Scott King was brutally shot down yesterday by Mitch McConnell. At the same time, however, we must do everything we can to push centrist politicians like Joe Manchin III, both Democratic and Republican, to vote according to conscience rather than hatred. When Jeff Sessions rolls back protections for minorities and implements a pro-business, anti-immigrant, mass incarceration “tough on crime” agenda, we have in part Joe Manchin III to thank.
Whether you live in West Virginia or not, if you care about this country and believe a racist shouldn’t be our Attorney General, call Joe Manchin and tell him how you feel. His West Virginia office can be reached at 304-342-5855 and his Washington office at 202-224-3954.
If you live in West Virgina, get ready. Pillory and primary is how we should deal with these turncoats.
James DeVinne is a student at American University in Washington, DC majoring in International Service with a focus on the Middle East and South Asia. He is a founding member of Occupy Baltimore and interns at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy.