It should be rather deflating for Trump supporters to see Alabama – a MAGA red-state bastion – field a startlingly mediocre crop of Republican Senate candidates for 2020. That the lasting success of the president’s change agenda hinges on his ability to cultivate a new breed of officeholder in Washington, D.C. cannot be emphasized enough. In order for Trump to be more than a mere blip on an otherwise unchanged swamp hegemony, there should be, his supporters might think, more Sen. Josh Hawleys (R-MO) and fewer Sen. Mitt Romneys (R-UT).
The outlook for 2020 is frankly unclear at this point. Potential “Make America Great Again” stalwarts include former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski in New Hampshire and billionaire Peter Thiel pal Blake Masters in Arizona. Both strongly espouse Trump’s America First beliefs but neither has yet officially announced a run. Meanwhile, the president endorses a classic Republican establishment incumbent in Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), who, with November 2020 in mind, has made vigorous efforts, of late, to embrace all things Trump. Recall that the president in 2018 also endorsed Romney, who, immediately upon being sworn in, promptly became the leading GOP foil to the president in the Senate.
MAGA State, Conventional Politicians
Longtime swamp resident Jeff Sessions is now seeking to reclaim his old seat. Many Trump advocates point to Sessions’ bold support for the president in 2015 when almost the entire Republican establishment was arrayed against him. As attorney general, though, Sessions’ actions revealed that he was far less dedicated to unclogging the corridors of power than was his boss.
It must be remembered that Sessions has basically spent his entire adult life surrounded by government officials. He was a U.S. attorney as far back as 43 years ago and he served in the Senate for two decades. When he had a chance to enact real change as Trump’s attorney general, he decided not to. Even worse, his reasoning for that inaction seems to have been grounded in a belief in the inherent goodness of entrenched government officials: Sessions simply couldn’t believe they were capable of putting their own interests above those of the nation.
By recusing himself from the phony Russia probe – due to this misplaced trust – it can be argued that Sessions did more damage to the first two years of Trump’s presidency than any other administration official. Putting him back in his comfortable Senate seat will do little to facilitate the major overhaul of our federal government for which MAGA loyalists so dearly pine.
Sessions’ GOP primary opponents in Alabama might be even worse, though, in terms of feigning loyalty to the Trump agenda while doing business as usual in D.C. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL) is another MAGA-come-lately in the Tillis mode. While it certainly is possible for politicians to learn from past mistakes, there appears to be little reason for Trump supporters to put in the Senate a man who urged the president to drop out of the 2016 race after the latter had secured the Republican nomination. Yet, that is just what Byrne did – and he did it right before election day.
“It is now clear Donald Trump is not fit to be President of the United States and cannot defeat Hillary Clinton,” Byrne said in October 2016. “I believe he should step aside and allow Governor [Mike] Pence to lead the Republican ticket.”
Perhaps the colossal misjudgment can be overlooked. Perhaps the total misunderstanding of just what the 2016 election was really about can be set aside, given Byrne’s present embrace of Trump. When it mattered most, though, Byrne’s judgment could not have been more off.
Another prominent candidate in the Alabama GOP field is former Auburn college football coach Tommy Tuberville. It could be argued that, on the ethics scale, big-time college sports coaches rank a couple of notches below ambulance-chasing lawyers: Recruitment transgressions, academic scandals, and the almost routine overlooking of criminal behavior by star athletes suggest Tuberville’s former profession hardly makes him a worthy Senate candidate.
While not caught up in any of the more shocking scandals that have plagued college football, the old ball coach attracted plenty of negative attention during his years patrolling the sidelines. On two occasions – as has been reported in the media – he abruptly abandoned teams with no warning or parting words for other coaching jobs: Leaving Ole Miss for Auburn in 1998 and, in 2012, dumping Texas Tech for the University of Cincinnati. Going on that record, one could argue that this is a man who will, first and foremost, always act in his own self-interest.
Corporate Wolves in America First Clothing
It goes without saying that such behavior would make Tuberville a good fit on Capitol Hill but there are also solid policy reasons for MAGA backers to reject the coach. He touts himself as being strong on securing the southern border yet, in a trait commonly displayed by “RINOs”, he ties this to “immigration reform.”
Breitbart’s John Binder reports that in an August 3 speech at the Shoals Republican Club, Tuberville stressed the need to import foreign workers
“There are people coming across the border that need jobs, okay, and we want them to come over here, we just need to know who’s here, okay,” Tuberville said. “Put the wall up, then we let them come in, and become citizens like we all became citizens.”
A fourth GOP Senate contender, Alabama’s Secretary of State John Merrill, shares this cheap-labor shilling for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In a September interview with the website BamaPolitics.com, Merrill echoed Tuberville’s call for more foreigners to come into the country to fill American jobs.
“[W]e need to tackle the problem of illegal immigration and make sure that we are reforming immigration laws so that we have the necessary infrastructure improvements so that businesses and agriculture have the support that they need for a viable workforce,” Merrill said.
Alabama’s Yellowhammer News website reports Merrill made similar comments in a radio interview. Remarkably, he went as far as saying: “American companies cannot get native-born Americans to work for them as they are sitting on the couch, eating potato chips and drinking a Coca-Cola or sitting on the front porch waiting for the next check to come instead of being out working and trying to make a living for their families.”
Merrill is completely ignoring the welfare burden being imposed on American taxpayers by these imported foreigners, even as many of them hold down low-paying jobs. A 2016 report by the Center for Immigration Studies found that “the average immigrant household consumes 33 percent more cash welfare, 57 percent more food assistance, and 44 percent more Medicaid dollars than the average native household.” A 2015 CIS report stated that 67% of households headed by immigrant farmworkers are on public assistance of some form.
Americans are subsidizing cheap labor for industrial agriculture and similar low-paying employers while border security poseurs like Tuberville and Merrill are saying that corporate needs demand that we bring even more immigrants.
This is who passes for the leading Senate GOP contenders in a state that overwhelmingly backs Trump and his change agenda. If the president’s movement cannot muster a more worthy candidate in Roll MAGA Tide Alabama, it does not bode well for future congressional elections across the country.
Read more from Joe Schaeffer.