As Election Day nears, both candidates have begun compiling lists of potential cabinet secretaries. Edward-Isaac Dovere of Politico reported: “Joe Biden is at the top of the internal short list Hillary Clinton’s transition team is preparing for her pick to be secretary of state.”
Given her former role as President Obama’s first Secretary of State, Clinton is likely to nominate a comfortably subservient chief diplomat. Her personal focus on foreign policy, past position as Secretary of State and hawkish policy-views mean Clinton is likely seeking to place someone in the position that is comfortable with limited autonomy. With that in mind, it is not clear why Biden would extend his political career into his mid-seventies to work in a hypothetical Clinton Administration.
Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense are two positions that call for a seasoned diplomatic-mind. Installing a faithful ally and friend of President Barack Obama, a man whom Clinton shares little foreign policy thinking with, to be chief diplomat places experience over compatibility. While that might seem myopic, it is the sort of political maneuver capable of ensuring disagreement, and thus creative thinking within the White House and State Department.
As with all ‘sources’ of information stemming from Washington insiders, this ‘leak’ was undoubtedly a test, prodding Biden to consider the post, while testing the public on the potential makeup of a Clinton Cabinet. His quick, public rejection of any hypothetical position under Clinton does little to indicate his true feelings.
Regardless of Biden’s position, in an election brushed with alienation and contempt for the Washington Elite, Clinton would be wise to seek cabinet members with opposing views. For positions other than the head of the State and Defense Departments, she might consider a lower-profile than the outgoing, avuncular Vice President.
Americans are demanding change. While this should not come in the form of the pseudo-fascism of the GOP candidate, with parades of materiel down Pennsylvania Avenue, if she wins, Clinton should be seeking to alter the face of government. Installing cabinet members unwilling to go toe-to-toe with a 30-year veteran will do nothing to assuage American distrust of the Clinton Dynasty.
Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton produce political scandal and accusations of corruption regularly. Thought it would be illogical to install cabinet secretaries unfamiliar to Clinton, or with alternate worldviews, it is worth creating a team of fresh faces and thinking for the American people. The American people are more unlikely now, than ever before, to accept clear cronyism.
Clinton began her political career as a Goldwater Girl. Until her graduation from university, her politics were firmly conservative. Stitching together a bipartisan cabinet with faces from conservative America would not only strengthen the Cabinet’s ability to accomplish, but would also promote a semblance of reconciliation after an election season in which America tore herself apart.
As Hillary Clinton and her aides go about drawing up lists of politicians, thinkers, academics, scientists and others for Cabinet positions, this team must consider the new environment in which we exist. Clinton has over 30 years of experience; however, after this yearlong reckoning with our political being, the political and public environment scarcely resembles that of Clinton’s past. For her to succeed, her thinking must be challenged.
A Nov. 2015 poll from the Pew Research Center found that 19 percent of Americans could trust the federal government. In “Masters of War,” Bob Dylan laments “you play with my world like it’s your little toy.” There is a perception of Hillary Clinton as having been birthed with the Oval Office in her eyes, pursuing an unrelenting path toward clinching the Presidency. With that goal in sight, and with current favorability rating at 45 percent, and with cemented ideologies after withstanding the Washington crucible, Clinton’s choice of cabinet secretaries is perhaps more consequential than for any previous candidate.
Clinton must establish a government of diverse thinkers, so as to challenge her ideologies and firm convictions, and to prove her amenability to change to the American populace. Challenges in Syria, the Asia-Pacific region and on the domestic front traverse all known political and social lines. Clinton’s team is moving in the right direction with the prospect: seek difference in a potential Clinton Administration, not a team of yes-men.