With a month and a half left until inauguration, President-elect Donald Trump has been appointing various politicians, philanthropists, and public servants to his cabinet to advise him on specific domestic and foreign issues. Here are a few of his cabinet members so far.


U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations: Governor Nikki Haley


The governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, was one of the earliest Republican critics of Donald Trump and his rhetoric. As the daughter of Sikh immigrants from India, she has condemned his refusal to reject the support of David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan and is a staunch opponent to his rather divisive tactics. In response, during his campaign, Trump accused her of being “weak” on illegal immigration. Socially, Haley has been pro-life and supports state laws that limit abortion. While she is conservative in her social and economic beliefs, Haley began to oppose public displays of the Confederate Flag after the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. In terms of foreign policy, her decision to try to prevent a pro-Palestine campaign known as “Boycott, Divest, and Sanction” gives a small glimpse into the pro-Israel agenda that she will take as Ambassador to the United Nations. However, as an ethnic and religious minority and a woman, Nikki Haley may bring a new, refreshing perspective to foreign policy, especially with respect to human rights.


Attorney General: Senator Jeff Sessions


Unlike Nikki Haley, Senator Sessions was a supporter of Donald Trump from the beginning of his campaign. Sessions champions very conservative policies, including strict immigration and drug enforcement. After Sessions’ was appointed to the Attorney General position, evidence of hs past racism has surfaced. For example, in 1986, Sessions was deemed too racist to be in the judiciary committee. He has criticized the NAACP, calling it “un-American” and “communist inspired”. Furthermore, many years ago, Sessions supported discriminatory judicial policies such as mandatory minimums and harsher drug sentences. While many are quick to spurn Sessions as a bigot, he has been a champion of equal rights and has fought against racial inequities. Noticing the unfair sentencing that African-Americans receive in this country, he has demonstrated empathy for those plagued by drug usage and pushed for reform in the justice system. Sessions was even an author of the Fair Sentencing Act in 2010, legislation intended to minimize racial discrimination in the justice system. Sessions’ bigotry is a thing of the past, and there has been little evidence over the past thirty years that he has retained his racist sentiments. While Sessions may bring conservative change to the justice system when he replaces Loretta Lynch, there is little need to worry that he will bring intolerance. As a leftist and a steadfast liberal, I can confidently say that Jeff Sessions is no longer a bigot, and many are too quick to judge.


Chief Strategist: Steve Bannon


Perhaps Trump’s most controversial cabinet pick thus far has been Steve Bannon. As CEO of Breitbart News, an online nationalist newspaper, Bannon is not afraid to flaunt his bigotry. He claims that the western world’s “Judeo-Christian capitalistic roots” are being threatened by “jihadist Islamic fascism.” Like Trump, Bannon rose to power in the alt-right movement by exploiting the fears of those who are frustrated with the status quo and promoting nativist nationalism. What has resulted from Bannon is a dangerously radical and bigoted community of white nationalists. While it is unclear whether or not Bannon sincerely holds these bigoted beliefs himself, it is problematic that he rarely condemns and too often panders to the alt-right’s intolerance. As chief strategist, Bannon will certainly advise Trump on environmental issues, as climate change is on every government’s radar in the twenty-first century. However, Breitbart News is known for denying the validity of climate change in spite of incontrovertible evidence that human activity is warming the Earth and causing extreme weather. Therefore, the next four years will likely involve immense regression from President Obama’s eight years of environmental legislation and international agreements that laid the groundwork for reducing carbon emissions.


Secretary of the Department of Education: Betsy DeVos


Betsy DeVos, a billionaire philanthropist who has never attended a public school in her life, has a long history of donating to conservative causes in education. Her family has fought against labor unions, providing money for the “right-to-work” legislation that give states the power to decide whether workers are required to join a labor union to get or keep a job. After right-to-work laws were passed in 2012, teachers unions diminished and lost their ability to strike. As Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos may take more action to fight against unionization, which may be troublesome for already underpaid, overworked, and underappreciated public school teachers. The DeVos family’s philanthropic efforts also greatly favor the expansion of charter schools funded by independent corporations. The negative result of having too many charter schools can be seen in Detroit, where approximately 80 percent of charter schools are run by unregulated corporations and school performance and test scores are the lowest of all the country’s major cities. An extreme lack of supervision and regulation caused the charter schools in Detroit to perform at similar levels to the failing public schools. Furthermore, DeVos supports school vouchers, or using public tax money to allow students to attend unregulated private and parochial schools. Often, school vouchers to attend nonpublic schools only serve students who are cheaper to educate, removing money from the public school system and leaving less money for students who are more expensive to educate. This can greatly compromise a public school’s ability to educate. Furthermore, many parochial and private schools that voucher students choose to attend are grossly unregulated and teach creationism. In conclusion, DeVos has never attended a public school in her life, her philanthropic work has been largely anti-public schools and anti-unionization, and her large role in reforming the Detroit education system has imploded on itself. She is certainly not cut out for her job.


Secretary of Commerce: Wilbur Ross


Trump has selected billionaire investor Wilbur Ross as his commerce secretary because he is, according to Trump, “a champion of American manufacturing” and “knows how to help companies succeed.” Ross is a longtime donor to Trump who helped salvage the president-elect’s casino company when it went bankrupt. Wilbur Ross made his fortune by buying and reviving failing steel, textile, and coal companies. Ross will work to fulfill Trump’s lofty promise of bringing back jobs to America. He may have to employ protectionist trade tactics. Furthermore, with the national debt as one of the problems Trump vowed to fix, Ross will provide his economic expertise.


Secretary of Health and Human Services: Tom Price


During his campaign, Trump had repeatedly criticized Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act and promised to repeal it and replace it. However, he has never provided any practical replacement for the current healthcare system, and he recently decided to keep some components of the healthcare plan. Nonetheless, the selection of former orthopedic surgeon and current U.S. Representative from Georgia reflects a desire for change in the current healthcare system. Price’s comprehensive plan involves removing twenty million Americans from Obamacare. Price’s potential plan will instead provide age-based rather than income-based tax credits so that former Obamacare patients can buy private insurance. 18-35 year olds will receive annual tax credits of $1,200 and those over 51 years old will receive $3,000. People with preexisting conditions will get access to healthcare provided that they maintain the insurance policy for 18 months, a potential financial burden for people struggling economically. This new healthcare policy could hurt poorer, sicker people who acquired desperately needed coverage under Obamacare. Lastly, with less government involvement in the healthcare system, government-mandated protections for women’s and transgender health care, like providing birth control, may disappear. Likewise, Price is pro-life and will likely seek to defund Planned Parenthood.


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