My initial reaction to the 2016 Presidential election was something like an incidence of physical trauma. I went to bed before the dust had settled, but I had no illusions that a Clinton comeback was in the offing as I slept. I proceeded through the early morning hours in a somber mood, and looked about suspiciously at the people I encountered. Had they helped bring this about? But something dramatic happened after only a few short hours. My sadness and despair turned to anger and to be honest, hatefulness.
I’ve been actively following politics since 1992 and educating myself about its impacts on our lives. It’s easy to be cynical about the political process, and it’s warranted. Politics can be summarized neatly as the actions of people, and if you aren’t cynical about the actions of people, you aren’t paying attention. But this election brought out a staggering degree of vitriol and hatred, tinged with racism and misogyny and peppered with a complete disregard for decency and truthfulness. I still shake my head when I consider that the man to be sworn in as President is an admitted sexual predator.
I had to look up the word kleptocracy as I kept seeing it in the press and wanted to be sure it accurately reflected what I could see happening. As Mr. Trump began his Celebrity Apprentice style cabinet formation, the nominations made it clear his intention was not governing a nation, but installing a hierarchy of the wealthy who could best be described as the most ironic picks for each position.
As Secretary of State he has nominated a corporate CEO who is so deeply connected with Russia he received the Order of Friendship directly from Vladimir Putin. This is the man who will carry out Mr. Trump’s foreign policy and be the face of the United States to the world.
To head the Department of Energy, he has nominated a simpleton. The former Governor of Texas who as a presidential candidate, wanted to eliminate the Department of Energy, which he will now “run.”
Along the same lines, it would seem most ironic to select someone who has sued the EPA to run the EPA. Mr. Trump’s choice to man the Environmental Protection Agency used the judicial system to attempt to stop the EPA from violating the rights of his state (Oklahoma) to pollute as they chose.
If we were to select someone to run the Department of Education in the Bizzaro World the American people will soon be living in, we would select someone who is ideologically opposed to the educational system the Department oversees. That’s exactly what we’re getting. Someone with no experience as an educator, no educational background indicating they’d be suitable, and who opposes a public education system.
Another rather alarming pattern in Mr. Trump’s nominations are the number of positions he is entrusting to former military generals, some very recently removed from active military service. This has the distinct air of suggesting a militarily dominated foreign policy hitched to a self-destructive anti-government domestic policy. Civilian control of America’s military is required to prevent the military industrial complex’s undue influence in how the United States interacts with our global neighbors.
One can certainly argue that former Presidents have tapped former military leaders for political positions, but Mr. Trump’s complete lack of diplomatic experience, of any political experience at all, and his tendency to be influenced by the most recent person he speaks to, makes for a volatile and combustible mix at the helm of the ship of state. He has already escalated the specter of a nuclear arms race by tweeting, and he’s not even the President yet. If having the leader of the so-called free world using a thing called “tweeting” to make random policy directives doesn’t fill one with trepidation and angst, perhaps it’s only because we’ve become numb to the bombardment of information we get until our senses are overloaded and we shrug, assuming the people in positions of power will do the right things. Remember what I said about cynicism?