Almost immediately following the election Trump has adhered to the many racist and offensive views he campaigned on, despite a call for “unity” during his acceptance speech. This is perhaps most evident with his cabinet picks thus far.
The President’s cabinet is one of the most integral parts of the United States’ executive governing apparatus, which is why as President-elect Donald Trump began to name appointments, social media exploded with both anger and fear.
According to CNN, Trump has tapped Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions for Attorney General, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. and Republican donor Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary. Perhaps most problematic, however, are his picks for chief strategist and chief of staff.
The chief strategist — a top advisor to the president — is unlike the other appointments because Congressional approval is not necessary. Trump chose Stephen Bannon for the position, which is coincidentally his most terrifying pick thus far.
Bannon, who served as CEO of the Trump campaign, is also the Executive Chairman of the alt-right website Breitbart News. Under Bannon’s leadership since 2012, Breitbart has published pieces that are anti-Muslim, anti-Mexican and anti-Women.
LGBTQ+ rights have also been entirely disregarded under Bannon’s leadership and has steamrolled a severely racist rhetoric, including many articles aimed at devaluing the Black Lives Matter movement and a headline reading: “Hoist it high and proud: The Confederate flag proclaims a glorious heritage.”
Throughout the campaign, Bannon’s site continued publishing the conservative conspiracy theories Breitbart has become famous for, including ones which seek to “expose” Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King as caucasian.
Other threads on Breitbart’s website include headlines such as “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy,” “Would you rather your child had feminism or cancer?” “Science proves it: Fat-shaming works,” “Gay rights have made us dumber, it’s time to get back in the closet” and “The solution to online ‘harassment’ is simple: Women should log off.”
Someone who publishes ideas demeaning people of color, and any person that is not a straight man, should not be advising the president of this incredibly diverse country. Bannon’s “news” website and rhetoric is inherently offensive, but it is also incredibly dangerous. Rhetoric of hatred and denomination do not help promote a country of peace or prosperity.
Alongside Bannon, Trump tapped Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus for chief of staff. The position will hand this Republican a major role in the president’s everyday activities. The fact that Priebus and Bannon are being advertised almost as “co-equals,” is not something that helps a White House function properly, according to NPR, because a level of distinction between the Chief of Staff and Chief Strategist is necessary to keep political agendas on track.
Other troubling Trump cabinet picks include Sessions of Alabama for Attorney General. Sessions has acted as a top aide to Trump throughout his campaign and on his national security advisory committee. Sessions’ record shows that he has opposed almost every immigration bill that has come before the Senate in the last 20 years, and was instrumental to drafting much of Trump’s stance on immigration.
According to the Washington Post, Sessions has even fought legal immigration, and notoriously spoken-out against programs that help immigrants legally enter the United States. This directly contradicts everything this country stands for. This works against The American Dream.
The Post also reported that in 1986, a Senate committee denied Sessions for a federal judgeship after former colleagues testified he used the n-word and joked that the Ku Klux Klan was “okay” until he “learned that they smoked marijuana.”
Some other major positions have been announced in the last two weeks. Trump tapped Republican donor Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary. For years, DeVos has advocated for a system of “school choice,” where parents can choose whether to send their children to private, public or charter schools.
Though on the surface the idea of “school choice” seems like a beneficial idea, it will further disenfranchise communities of impoverished students attending public school systems, which are already in dire need of more attention from the Department of Education.
Perhaps most importantly, are who Trump is considering for the position of Secretary of State. Both former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani are currently vying for the position, and Trump’s choices for this prestigious position must similarly live up to the legacy of some of the greatest political minds in this country’s history.
On the campaign trail, Trump promised many foreign policy changes to his supporters, including a general withdrawal from the Chinese economy. Romney, who has opposed Trump on several issues, is the crux of intense controversy regarding a potential appointment to the Secretary of State position.
Romney’s loyalty to a Trump presidency is under fire, but based on the line-up for other cabinet positions Romney would be one of the least conservative, or independently wealthy, members of the cabinet.
The other contender, Giuliani, has been a long-time and loyal supporter of Trump, but has been so vocal about his gunning for the Secretaryship that at times even Trump has expressed frustration on the matter. During his political campaign, Giuliani made a name for himself for being pro-choice, somewhat pro-LGBTQ+ and an advocate for policing the internet.
Overall, the President-elect has presented a cabinet that is being defined by the Huffington Post as “the least experienced (cabinet) in modern history.” Quartz reports that Trump’s “cabinet of billionaires” is worth more than $35 billion dollars, which is more than the GDP of 100 individual countries in the world.
As far as can be deducted through the President-elect’s decisions so far, the focus is on donors who have donated heavily to his campaign, and those who will further his right-winged policies.
Money should not be a top qualification for a seat on a president’s cabinet. It proves nothing more than the place at which a President’s interests lie: not in the welfare of the everyday people, but in his billionaire friends. This is not a hopeful start for the future of Trump’s presidency.
Sriteja Yedhara, Contributing Columnist
Skye is a senior majoring in Communication Arts and minoring in Psychology. She is passionate about illustration and finding creative spaces to have open discussions about mental illness. A fervent animal lover, she would probably be a herpetologist in another life.
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