During the campaign, Donald Trump said he wanted to dismantle the establishment, and make “a new government controlled by you, the American people.”
So far, he has appointed six billionaires, including four at the Cabinet level — their total net worth is more than one-third of U.S. households combined.
Once again, Trump is forgoing the political playbook and moving forward without a blueprint — relying on instincts and personal relationships over any grand design scheme or ideology. His cabinet consists of mostly men, who are mostly white and do not have much government experience.
Donald Trump is building a cabinet in his own image.
Barbara Boxer, a Democratic senator from California, whose terms ends on Jan. 3 2017, wrote in an op-ed last week:
[Trump’s] nominee to run the Environmental Protection Agency is a climate change skeptic who has led lawsuits against the very agency he hopes to lead.
His nominee for Energy secretary couldn’t even remember the name of the agency he hopes to run — and when he did, he said he wanted to eliminate it.
His nominee for Education secretary wants to drain funding away from our public schools, which 95 percent of our children attend, and she and her family have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to groups that oppose lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights.
His nominee for Labor secretary, a fast food chain CEO, has been accused of labor violations by the very department he has been tapped to lead. …
His nominee for Housing and Urban Development secretary opposes the Fair Housing Act.
His nominee for Treasury secretary, who recommends economic policy, profited from the financial crisis by repossessing tens of thousands of homes in an operation that was dubbed a “foreclosure machine.” …
His picks for his White House staff are also alarming, starting with a chief strategist who is associated with white supremacist hate groups.
His national security adviser is someone who has shown vitriol toward Muslims and a military investigation found that he “inappropriately shared” classified information with foreign military officers.
A bright spot?
While Trump’s selections have predominantly been white males, the President-elect has selected three women of color to serve in top positions in his administration.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is one of them — she was a sharp critic of Trump during the 2016 Republican primary campaign over his harsh rhetoric about illegal immigration and for not speaking forcefully enough against white supremacists.
The 44-year-old daughter of Indian immigrants is Trump’s pick for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
She has very little foreign policy experience.
Haley represents what some Republicans hope could be the new face of their party — a younger, more diverse generation of leaders.
Haley said she had accepted Trump’s offer and would remain governor pending her confirmation to the Cabinet-level post by the U.S. Senate. “When the president believes you have a major contribution to make to the welfare of our nation, and to our nation’s standing in the world, that is a calling that is important to heed,” she said in a statement.
Another daughter of Indian immigrants, Seema Verma is Trump’s pick as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Verma is the president and founder of SVC, Inc. — a health policy consulting firm. She is an Indiana resident with close ties to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, after she designed her home state’s Obamacare Medicaid expansion model.
Elaine Chao, Trump’s choice for transportation secretary, is the only pick with cabinet experience.
A Chinese immigrant, Chao arrived in the United States at age 8.
She was labor secretary under President George W. Bush — an appointment that made her the first Asian American woman ever appointed to a Cabinet position, and deputy transportation secretary during President George H.W. Bush’s administration.
Chao also happens to be married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Trump’s post-election actions appear at odds with his “drain the swamp” campaign rhetoric.
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich said on NPR last week, “I’m told he (Trump) now just disclaims that (drain the swamp). He now says it was cute, but he doesn’t want to use it anymore.”
But the next day, Trump took to his favorite medium to set the record straight, tweeting that “Someone incorrectly stated that the phrase ‘DRAIN THE SWAMP’ was no longer being used by me. Actually, we will always be trying to DTS.”
We shall see.