Trump’s cabinet is kind of awful

In this Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus campaigns for then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a rally at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, in Eau Claire, Wis. As Priebus moves to consolidate power, he’s frustrating some long time Trump loyalists who believe he’s too conventional a pick for an unconventional president. (Matt Rourke/AP)

Since the election Donald Trump has been busy meeting with candidates for positions in his administration, and he has already chosen about a dozen of the people he wants for top posts. Despite promises during the campaign that he would surround himself with the “best people”, his choices are overwhelmingly not the best. In fact, most of them aren’t even halfway decent picks.

It is only fair to point out that some of Trump’s picks have been good. Nikki Haley is a great choice for UN ambassador. She is a fairly moderate Republican and has experience serving a governor of South Carolina. And Reince Priebus is what I would call a normal pick for Chief of Staff, but when compared to other figures he looks fantastic. There are several other positions where Trump’s choices are fairly standard.

Then we start the bad choices. Take Secretary of Education Nominee Betsy DeVos. She has no experience teaching in, working in or essentially ever being affiliated with a public school. She did not attend public schools, and neither did her children. Real fantastic choice to oversee all the public schools across the country.

What DeVos favors is “school choice” which in a nutshell is spending taxpayer dollars to fund private and religious schools. She has compared her work in education reform to a biblical battleground where she wishes to “advance God’s kingdom.” In addition, she has lamented that public schools have displaced the Church as the center of communities.

This is disturbing rhetoric that not only threatens the wall of separation between church and state but also families who rely on public education to give their children shots at better lives. It is no secret that many public schools around the country, especially in poor neighborhoods, have inadequate resources as it is. Funneling those resources to promote a religious agenda is sickening.

On Monday Trump nominated Ben Carson to serve as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, despite the fact that Carson stated a few weeks ago that he would not seek a position in the government because he has “no government experience” and didn’t want to “cripple the presidency.”

Evidently Trump realized the presidency was already crippled and figured ramming into one more iceberg wouldn’t make things worse. A retired neurosurgeon, who by the way has said some pretty crazy things, has no business overseeing a $50 billion budget as head of a federal agency that serves primarily low income households. People are likely to suffer from an ill-advised pick like this.

Finally, we get to the racists. I’ll only pick on the ones that are really obvious about it. First we have Steve Bannon, the alt-right (read as: white supremacist) network head of Breitbart who has been appointed as Trump’s Chief Strategist. The site has been denounced as being steeped in homophobia, white nationalism and misogyny, even by those who had previously worked there. They’ve ran disgusting articles, including one inquiring whether a person would rather their child have cancer or feminism. It should be frightening to every minority group in this country that a man like this is advising the most powerful person in the world.

Additionally, Attorney General Nominee Jeff Sessions has some ugly ties to racism. He was denied a court position 30 years for racially charged comments and actions, and generally things become more racist as time goes on not less so. He has allegedly criticized civil rights groups such as the NAACP and ACLU as being un-American. There is no guarantee that Sessions would fight to uphold civil rights as Attorney General.

Trump’s picks should dispel any notion that he was secretly a genius the whole time, or had any intention of draining the swamp. While he has brought in some outsiders, he’s on track to assemble the richest cabinet in history. Department heads have a great deal of influence, so it is imperative politicians on both sides reject any choices that are unobjectively unqualified or dangerous for positions.


Jacob Kowalski is a weekly columnist to The Daily Campus opinion section. He can be reached via email at jacob.kowalski@uconn.edu.