By Xin Lin ’18
If you’ve ever wondered how to be appointed a position in Donald Trump’s cabinet, the requirements include being white, male, wealthy, and friends with Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin. In an effort to “drain the swamp”, Trump has established his administration with gazillionaires whom may face potential conflict of interests if approved.
Throughout his presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly claimed he would be doing things differently if elected, and that is certainly being portrayed in his appointment of cabinet members. Each of his cabinet appointees fall into one of the two categories – the awful or the dreadful. They provide a clear insight of what the Trump administration will be like in the coming four years – an executive branch that lacks the requisite knowledge, experience, exemplifies.
His selection for chief White House strategist, Steve Bannon, his divisive behavior and lack of good judgement. Bannon, the former chairman of Breitbart News, has been assailed as a white supremacist and anti-Semite. According to the Wall Street Journal, Bannon has labeled Breitbart to be “the platform for the alt-right,” an online movement that promotes white nationalism and has been linked to racism and anti-Semitism. With the appointment of Bannon, Trump affirms the American people that his presidency won’t be much different from his presidential campaign, his divisive and degrading message is still conscious even after winning the White House.
For the national security advisor position, Trump selected retired lieutenant general Michael T. Flynn – a duplicate of Trump himself. According to The New York Times, both Trump and Flynn “exhibit a loose relationship with facts.” For example, Flynn doesn’t recognize the difference between the Islam religion and, as Trump prefers to call it, “radical Islamic terrorism”. Just like Trump, Flynn uses Twitter as a way to explicitly condone and encourage discriminatory behavior and prejudice. In fact, according to Politico, Flynn has made accusations on his twitter claiming Hillary Clinton being involved with child sex trafficking and President Obama being a “jihadi”, an Islamic militant, who “laundered money for Muslim terrorists.” Doesn’t it seem scary that someone lacking the ability to distinguish between what’s authentic and what’s not will be advising the president of the United States of the credibility of an international or domestic threat? Flynn’s obsession with fake news will certainly impact his decision-making and put our country at risk of being a target of terrorism. To make matters worse, Flynn also has financial ties to Russia. According to CNN, Flynn was paid to speak on Russia Today, a Kremlin founded TV network. He has called for closer relations with Russia, something the Obama administration has greatly opposed.
Perhaps one of Trump’s most controversial cabinet appointments is Rex W. Tillerson, ExxonMobil Chief Executive, for Secretary of State. Tillerson, another appointee with close ties with Russia, is expected to face a long and grueling senate confirmation hearing due to his various conflict of interests if approved. According to CNN, in 2013, Putin awarded Tillerson the Order of Friendship, the highest honor given to a foreign citizen. With such a close relationship with someone the United States considers an enemy, especially after revelations of Russian interference in the recent presidential election, Tillerson has a grim chance of becoming the nation’s top diplomat. If approved, he would constantly be faced with suspicion about whether he is working in the interest of Russia and his own business, rather than the United States. By nominating Tillerson, Trump has completely overlooked ethical standards and experience. Tillerson holds no government or diplomatic experience. There is no doubt that Tillerson would use his immense influence as Secretary of State to further develop his fortune. However, his confirmation has a long way to go as he would have to cut all ties with his business. According to The New York Times, all cabinet members cannot hold a job in Trump’s administration with an overlapping interest. Each member must leave or sell their companies and corporate bonds, something many of them are unwilling to do.
It is crucial that the appointees face excessive scrutiny from the Senate. In order to have an honest and truthful government, each member has to be properly vetted and act in the best interest of the United States if approved. However, with Trump’s cabinet, it is clear that he fails to recognize the importance of diversity, experience, and knowledge. His phrase, “drain the swamp,” no longer holds the same meaning it did before the election. The “swamp” is now being filled with wealthy men that degrade minorities and promote white nationalism. That is certainly not the first step to making America great again.
Each student should contact his/ her senator and demand that they do not vote for any of these appointees unless it is clear that he/ she has fully met all of the ethical requirements to be appointed to the job.