With Donald Trump’s appointments to the cabinet, the shape his administration is going to take becomes clearer.
A racist for the Department of Justice suggests what kinds of crimes will get prosecuted and what won’t.
A wealthy woman who to the Department of Education despite never having been a teacher, never having attended a public school, nor ever sending her children to one suggests what will likely happen to public schools.
A general to be national security adviser who has a reputation for believing conspiracy theories is also suggestive. Such an adviser ought to warn of dangers, but do so objectively. Credulous belief in conspiracy theories suggests the possibility of panic.
The appointment of an executive of Goldman Sachs as Secretary of the Treasury suggests that Trump’s promise to work against lobbyists is going to be broken.
The appointment of a skeptic of human activity affecting climate change suggests that the EPA won’t be preventing pollution and that our national parks will be mined for natural resources, especially oil and natural gas.
And, though he hasn’t yet appointed a Secretary of State, that may well show something of what his administration will be like. I’ve heard three possibilities mentioned: John Bolton, who favors war with Iran; Rudy Giuliani, who doesn’t seem terribly diplomatic; and Mitt Romney, who didn’t support Trump during the campaign. I suspect Mr. Romney will play a role like students in Mr. Trump’s reality show, in which most eventually got fired. Does Mr. Trump want Mr. Romney to beg for the job? Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, and Kellyanne Conway have all spoken against the choice of Romney. I’ll be surprised if he’s chosen, but then again, Mr. Trump likes to be surprising.
Perhaps the most controversial of his appointments is of Steve Bannon as an adviser on strategy. Bannon is a former editor of the far-right Breitbart publication, who is generally considered to be a white supremacist. So what kind of strategy will he be advising, against whom, and what kind of goals will he favor?
Maybe we should see Mr. Trump’s appointments as including kinds of people who haven’t been included before in government (though the point is debatable). Looking at it that way would be ironic, though, as so many of his appointments are of people who don’t believe in being inclusive.
It’s not as if Mr. Trump is making disastrous appointments in all cases. Nikki Haley as ambassador to the UN isn’t controversial, from what I hear, and she didn’t support him during his campaign, but he didn’t (as far as I know) try to punish her, as he’s punished others who haven’t supported him.
But she’s an exception. What I think I see so far is that Trump is making sure he’s appointing people liberals won’t like. That’s probably why Mr. Romney won’t get Secretary of State–unless he’s willing to beg for it–he would be more acceptable to liberals than most of Mr. Trump’s other appointments. Appointing the people he has will thus be popular to the supporters he’s attracted. A lot of people are tired of an establishment they see as liberal. It won’t be liberal anymore (I doubt any of his nominations will be rejected), though it may also not serve the country too well. These appointments will speak to the resentment of many of Mr. Trump’s supporters, which has been building up for decades. Declaring they have no right to be resentful would be pointless. They ARE resentful, whether the rest of us agree or not. But disagreeing doesn’t mean we shouldn’t address these people and their complaints.
A lot of people wanted things to get shaken up in Washington. They may get shaken both more and less than many of his supporters want. Liberalism is unlikely to be the predominant culture, but the “swamp” seems to be getting deeper, and if the Republican Congress succeeds in repealing the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and Social Security, a lot of his supporters may begin having second thoughts.