Trump’s Cabinet: A Briefing
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Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States, was inaugurated on January 20. But who will be sitting across from him in the famed White House Cabinet Room? This article aims to take a closer look, and examine all the nominees for various positions in a nonjudgmental, nonpartisan manner.
Mike Pence is the Vice President of the United States. He served as the a member of the Tea Party Caucus in the House of Representatives from 2000 to 2013, when he became the Governor of Indiana before joining Trump’s campaign. Pence famously referred to himself as a “Christian, conservative, and Republican, in that order” and holds controversially right-wing values; liberals criticize him especially for his support of gay conversion therapy. Pence is remembered by many for crushing Democrat Tim Kaine in the vice presidential debate.
Rex Tillerson, the incoming Secretary of State, made his career in oil, serving as CEO of Exxon-Mobil from 2006 to 2016. Tillerson was chosen by Trump for his good relations with other nations accrued over years of deals. He’s pro-free trade, pro-Common Core, and in the past has acknowledged the existence of climate change. Many people question his close ties with Russia but that is absolutely in concurrence with the aims of the Trump administration.
Jeff Sessions is an Über-conservative who served as Alabama Attorney General for two years and an Alabama senator for twenty years. Trump’s top pick for Attorney General, Sessions has taken some very harsh stances in the past against homosexuality, illegal immigration, the ACA, and drug use of any kind. Sessions has been accused in the past of being a racist and KKK sympathizer, but he vehemently denies those allegations.
James Mattis was picked to be the new Secretary of Defense. A military man, he joined the Marines in 1969 and moved through the ranks while serving in the Gulf, Afghanistan, and Iraq wars until he finally moved into the position of Commander of the Central Command. Mattis has spoken against Russia and for a two-state solution in Israel. To serve as Secretary of Defense, he was supposed to be out of the military for eight years, but this can be waived.
Ryan Zinke is a former Navy Seal Commander turned Montana Representative tapped for Secretary of the Interior. Zinke has announced support of clean energy and climate control, as well as many military projects and budgets. Curiously, Zinke was an outspoken supporter of Mitt Romney in the 2012 Presidential Election.
Rick Perry, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Energy, may be familiar to people who follow politics in that he’s run for President several times. Perry has also served as governor of Texas for 15 years, where he made many conservative decisions, including his not-at-all-progressive policies on gay rights, the death penalty, healthcare, and economics. Perry has been criticized in the past for bringing his Evangelist religion into his political work.
Betsy DeVos was chosen to be the Secretary of Education. An extremely wealthy woman, she was prominent in the politics of Michigan State and once supported George W. Bush. DeVos ran a clean energy company and her foundation for education helped promote the ideas that education in the United States should embrace charter schools, entrepreneurs, and hire outside companies to assist in teaching.
Steven Mnuchin is another billionaire, a former Goldman Sachs partner who was chosen for Secretary of the Treasury. Firmly believing that America should make new jobs and bring back old ones, Mnuchin made a fortune in hedge funds and bank management. Mnuchin served as the Trump campaign’s national finance chairman, the likely reason for his selection.
John Kelly is another former general, this one selected for Secretary of Homeland Security. As commander for the United States Southern Command, Trump’s team chose Kelly for his knowledge of both the southern border and the Middle East, about which Kelly has expressed some very controversial opinions concerning the deployment of soldiers. Kelly has little political experience, but much military prowess, an asset valued in selections for Homeland Security.
Elaine Chao, who was chosen for Transportation Secretary, has had significant international and political experience. Born on the politically contested island of Taiwan, she was the first Asian American woman to be appointed to a President’s Cabinet. Previously serving under President George H.W. Bush as the Deputy Secretary of Transportation and George W. Bush as Secretary of Labor, Chao holds conservative, Republican ideals and is moderately wealthy.
Andrew Puzder is yet another millionaire, which in this case is apt considering that he’s the new Secretary of Labor. Taking a staunch stance against raising the minimum wage, Obamacare, and overtime pay, his conservative economic values are somewhat in keeping with that of the Trump administration. Puzder was the CEO of CKE Restaurants and was previously involved with the Republican National Committee.
Ben Carson is also a familiar name; this pick for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and former neurosurgeon ran against Trump in the Republican primary and was one of the opponents who argued with him least about things. Growing up in a rough neighborhood (the logic behind this choice), Carson learned very, very conservative values as he entered the medical profession and was catapulted to fame during the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast.
Tom Price is a conservative man who was chosen for Secretary of Health and Human Services. The former Georgia Representative and Chairman of the House Budget Committee has in the past voted to extend the controversial Patriot Act and repeal several government welfare funding programs. Price advocates a stance which is anti-homosexual, anti-abortion, and anti-gun control.
David Shulkin, interestingly enough, is not making a huge move into a new post. As per the Obama administration, Shulkin served as the Under Secretary of Veteran Affairs. As per the Trump administration, Shulkin will be promoted to the position of Secretary. Shulkin is a MD and has in the past managed hospitals. His experience in this department makes him an obvious choice.
Sunny Perdue was Trump’s last nominee and the pick for Secretary of Agriculture. Perdue once served as a captain in the U.S. Air Force, after which he entered politics as a state senator and later Governor of Georgia. Like Trump, Perdue used to be a Democrat. His experience with agriculture is curious: when Georgia was in a drought, he and local lawmakers prayed for rain. Whether correlated or not, Georgia then descended into flooding.
For Chief of Staff, Trump selected Reince Priebus, the former Chairman of the National Republic Committee who helped Trump get elected. This Cabinet; an odd mix of generals, billionaires, and established Republicans, underlines the bizarre campaign led by Trump. With a mix of pro-Russia and anti-Russia members, will this put to ease the liberals’ doomsaying over the administration’s connections to Putin? Will these unorthodox picks make the radical changes Trump promised, or merely lead us on steady decline? Will history judge kindly the Cabinet of the 45th President of the United States? Only time will tell.