President-elect Donald Trump, who rode voter anguish to victory in key Rust Belt states like Wisconsin, built his campaign off a promise to “drain the swamp.” Much of his appeal was rooted in his image as a political outsider and not a corrupt politician like his opponent, former Secretary of State “Crooked” Hillary Clinton. Yet his cabinet appointments have been painting a very different picture of what his presidency may hold in store.
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Trump’s cabinet has painted a picture strikingly consistent with the flaws that he exploited in Clinton’s campaign. A combination of Washington insiders, members of the so-called “establishment” Trump was such a rebel against and rich bankers that Trump had criticized as part of a global elite who “robbed the working class” have thus far been the nucleus of his cabinet.
Elaine L. Chao, wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will be his Secretary of Transportation. A Washington veteran who served in George W. Bush’s administration as Secretary of Labor, she will be key in helping Trump keep his promise to increase infrastructure funding.
Tom Price, Trump’s pick for Health and Human Services Secretary, is a six-term Congressman from Georgia. He will be instrumental in working to repeal the Affordable Care Act, a campaign promise of Trump’s that he has already begun amending.
For his Chief of Staff, Trump tapped Reince Priebus. Priebus previously served as chairman of the Republican National Committee. It does not get much more establishment than that.
What I do not understand isn’t these appointments, which make total sense given Trump’s lack of experience and meaningful relationships on Capitol Hill. What I’m still failing to understand is the logic behind vouching for a man because of his lack of experience in the field he is applying to work in.
What kind of man walks into a job interview and brags about lack of prior work experience? Who would then hire that man? America, that’s who.
Yet Trump clearly understood the limitations his lack of experience placed on him, hence his move to surround himself with Washington insiders. Instead of draining the swamp, he is diving into it. Perhaps he is even muddying the waters further.
The same Wall Street connections that plagued Clinton’s campaign will now be represented in Trump’s White House. In his appointments of Treasury Secretary and Commerce Secretary, Trump has selected two men who embody the “elite” that his supporters seemed to despise.
Trump’s pick for Commerce Secretary is Wilbur Ross, an investor whose property, Sago Mine Number One, had been cited for numerous safety violations in 2005, consequences of cost-cutting meant to improve the bottom line. Eventually, these violations caught up with Sago Mine, and an explosion killed 12 workers. Yet our nation’s leader, a supposed man of the people, thought this man deserved a seat in our government.
Even more outlandish is Trump’s pick for Treasury Secretary, billionaire banker Steven Mnuchin. The former Goldman Sachs partner-turned-Hedge Fund manager will now be tasked with government borrowing from financial markets and rewriting the tax code. Who better to help the everyday man by coming up with a fair tax code than a billionaire?
Trump’s picks of billionaire businessmen to run the economic portion of his cabinet are not surprising. After all that’s what Trump is at his core, a billionaire businessman.
This will be the legacy of Trump’s campaign, long after he is gone from office. It will be the memory of how he tricked the American people into thinking he represented all of them, when he only cared about himself and his rich friends. A man who spent his life reaping the benefits of an unfair system was never going to change it. It was our fault for thinking otherwise.
Eric Hilkert ([email protected] ) is a sophomore with an undecided major.