By Trevor Robinson Wong
On Jan. 20, 2017, the man America elected as President assumed office. Donald J.Trump, a billionaire tv star and business tycoon with no political experience, is America’s selection for that office. Best known for his role in the TV show “The Apprentice,” entirely composed around choosing the right person for a job, Trump’s reputation is based on him knowing who the best person for any particular job is.
So far, in accordance to his cabinet picks, it seems as if this reputation is unjustified.
Following his election to the highest office in all the land, Trump gave a surprisingly effective speech in favor of unifying the country. No matter one’s political opinion, Trump’s victory came as a jarring shock to all, as forecasting websites gave Trump anywhere from an 11% – 33% chance of winning the election. The people who elected Trump, mainly older white men, have seen themselves represented with mainly older white men in Trump’s cabinet.
Widely accused of having friendly relations with Russia that may result in conflicts of interest, Trump has not helped his case with his appointments. “Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal, too.” No, that is not a quote from Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, or even Vladimir Putin, but rather from newly appointed Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor for Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, who made the comment to Ronald Radosh of the Daily Beast back in 2013. Aspiring to form a government similar to Lenin, who presided over the death of over five million of his own people due to starvation, is perhaps not the path that a lot of Americans are eager to head down.
Before Bannon was employed by the Trump campaign, he served as executive chair of Breitbart News. Breitbart News, among other things, has published articles under Bannon’s leadership with titles ranging from “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy,” “Suck it up Buttercups, Dangerous F****t Tour Returns to Colleges in September,” and to top it off, “Would you Rather your Child had Feminism or Cancer?”
The titles of these articles alone appear quite representative of Bannon’s views, a man who will now hold the right ear of the most powerful man in the world.
Earlier in the year, when America was not faced with the impending doom of a Trump presidency, Ben Carson emerged as a popular presidential candidate. Carson, similar to Trump, holds absolutely zero political experience and made several blunders on the campaign trail– including accidentally announcing his run for the presidency early, accusing the Chinese of being in the Middle East, and claiming gun control allowed the Holocaust to occur–that propelled him out of contention.
Upon speculation that Carson was offered a role in Trump’s administration, a Carson aide spoke to the media regarding the matter. “Dr. Carson feels he has no government experience, he’s never run a federal agency. The last thing he would want to do was take a position that could cripple the presidency.” Despite Ben Carson himself not believing he had the qualification to run a cabinet position, Trump named him as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, a federal agency with a $50 Billion budget and 8,000 employees. Luckily, Carson’s position, unlike Bannon’s, does require a senate confirmation, which, although is Republican controlled, would need only three Republican senators to cross over and vote against Carson’s appointment, an act they should regard as their civil duty for perhaps the most woefully incapable and unqualified man in Trump’s cabinet.
Although many more of Trump’s cabinet decisions also deserve their share of reprimand, there were signs of quality decisions that are more in line with past administration. Secretary of Defense pick and former general James (Mad Dog) Mattis, is an exceptional decision that illustrates Trump’s potential to work with people whom he doesn’t entirely agree with. While Trump has expressed his alacrity to work with Vladimir Putin and Russia, Mattis has declared Russia as “trying to break NATO apart,” and also recently questioned Putin’s sanity at the Heritage Foundation event. Mattis’s appointment isn’t a sure bet, however, as in addition to congressional approval, Mattis also needs a waiver passed by Congress to vacate the seven-year waiting period between military service and serving as Defense Secretary.
Beyond Mattis, it gets arduous to find another choice to praise. Andrew Putzer, Secretary of Labor nominee, Reince Priebus, Chief of Staff, and Nikki Haley, nominee for UN Ambassador are more generic Republican choices, but that doesn’t make those choices any better. Many other choices in Trump’s cabinet have a murky past marked by idiotic statements or a serious deficit in moral values. Scott Pruitt, the nominee for the Environmental Protection Agency CEO, doesn’t believe in climate change. Secretary of Energy nominee, Rick Perry, once famously forgot the Department of Energy’s name during a Presidential Debate, which he will now head. Wilbur Ross, the choice for Secretary of Commerce, is a man currently being investigated for negligence in the death of 12 minors, and has also committed 208 safety violations, according to the nation.com. Attorney General Nominee Jeff Sessions, who, according to a testimony by Thomas Figures told him that “I thought the KKK was ok until I found out they smoked pot.” Donald Trump once said he doesn’t believe in hiring people that are smarter than him. It sure seems like he’s held true to that belief.
If one wants a true representation of 45th President of the United State’s Donald Trump’s cabinet, no statistic gives a better impression than this: Trump’s unfinished cabinet, with only 17 people currently employed, hold more money than a third of the entire US combined. Trump won this election for many components, ranging from an overall dislike of Hillary Clinton, anger at the Washington establishment, and his esteem as a man who knows how to make money. But he won for no bigger reason than his demeanor as an outsider who would end the rigged system of wealthy politicians staying on top.
Trump supporters should feel betrayed by his cabinet choices, which show if anything, Trump is only going to expand the rigged system for the insular wealthy and exponentially expand his own prosperity rather than the people who really need it. So yes, Trump will “Make America Great Again,” but not for the people that need it. Not for the single mother of four who desperately needs a wage raise working two jobs. Not for the financially constrained student with no means of paying for his education. And certainly not for the immigrants who come to this country, similar to those who built this very country waging against the fears of disease, persecution, and death with no path to success other than a surmise idea of the American Dream.