Recently, Donald Trump has been announcing the members of his future Cabinet. While there are many positions that have also been announced (such as the Director of the CIA and the National Security Advisor), this article will focus specifically on five most powerful Cabinet positions that have been proposed and/or suspected. Unsurprisingly, Trump’s Cabinet reflects the anti-progressive ideals that lead to his election in the first place; many are hailing it as a “Cabinet of Horrors,” or a “Cabinet of Lamentables.” Below is a quick summary of each proposed Cabinet member’s job description and their stances on the important issues of their offices.
Mike Pence (Vice President): The Vice President is indirectly elected by Electoral College and is a member of both the executive and legislative branches of the government. As a member of the legislative branch, the VP is President of the Senate who votes only in the case of a tie, but can also influencing legislation. As a member of the executive branch, the VP is second highest-ranking official in the Presidential Succession and is also a member of the National Security Council.
Pence is an experienced political, boasting an extensive political resume. He has worked for the Indiana Policy Review Foundation and served on the Foreign Affairs Committee, among other things. He is an advocate of businesses being allowed to refuse service to LGBTQ+ individuals, supported the war in Iraq, and is supported by the billionaire Koch brothers. Surprisingly (but thankfully), Pence has criticized Trump’s proposed Muslim immigration ban, and has a record of supporting Obamacare – directing opposing the mainstream GOP platform.
Rex Tillerson (Secretary of State): The Secretary of State is considered equivalent to the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs in other countries. They advise the President on matters of foreign policy and diplomacy. They negotiate treaties at the highest level and supervises the operation of the US government in foreign states. They also oversee all passport and visa matters. The Secretary of State is 4th in the line of the Presidential Succession.
It is widely thought that Tillerson is going to be Trump’s choice for Secretary of State. Tillerson has no political or diplomatic experience. He currently is, and has been for most of his adult life, the CEO of Exxon Mobil. He is thought to have strong ties to the Russian government and has travelled extensively around the world as the CEO of a major oil company. Tillerson does believe, however, that human have contributed to climate change, unlike President-elect Donald Trump. Tillerson is also a strong advocate for free trade.
Steven Mnuchin (Department of the Treasury): The Secretary of the Treasury oversees the US Department of the Treasury. They advise the President on economic and financial matters including tax policies, managing public debt, Social Security, and economic sanctions against foreign states. They are 5th in the line of the Presidential Succession.
Like Tillerson, Mnuchin has little-to-no experience in politics and governance. He is a veteran on Goldman Sachs and is known for his lack of opinions on public policy. Little is known about what Mnuchin believes – but it is anticipated that he will be pro-Wall Street, despite Trump’s “promises.”
James Mattis (Department of Defense): The Secretary of the Defense oversees the Defense Department and the military forces of the United States; they are second only to the President (who is Commander-in-Chief). They are also a member of the National Security Council. The Secretary of Defense is a civilian by design, although retired military members may serve after seven years. They are 6th in the line of the Presidential Succession.
Mattis is a retired Marine Corps general whose nickname is “Mad Dog” and the “Warrior Monk” due to his long military career. He entered the Marines at the age of 19 and has fought in the Persian Gulf War, in Afghanistan, and in Iraq. Holding the past jobs of US Joint Forces Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, he believes that Iran is the single biggest threat to the US, and has been quoted saying “it’s fun to shoot some people.” According to the Telegraph UK, “the Obama administration retired General Mattis from his post in 2013 amid concerns that he was too eager for military confrontation with the country.”
Jeff Sessions (Attorney General – Department of Justice): The Attorney General of the United States is the highest-ranking official in the justice system and is the chief lawyer of the US. Their primary duties are to provide leadership in preventing and controlling crime, as well as ensuring impartial administration of justice. They are 7th in the line of the Presidential Succession.
Sessions was one of the first supporters of Trump’s campaign and was in the thick of policy statements and campaigning during the Presidential Race. Sessions has served as a senator for Alabama for the past two decades. He is a Republican and a staunch opponent of any immigration (even legal), opposing nearly every immigration bill. He is known to be a climate change sceptic and a war hawk. Racist allegations have followed him throughout his career.
John Kelly (Department of Homeland Security): The Secretary of Homeland Security is the newest Presidential Cabinet position as of 2001. They oversee the bureaus related to protecting US citizens; areas of responsibility include immigration and customs, civil rights and liberties, cybersecurity and terrorism, the Secret Service, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). They are 17th in the line of the Presidential Succession.
Kelly is a retired Marine general who has extensive military experience in South America. He aims to increase border security and American imperialism in the Western hemisphere. He is a strong advocate of torture and lead the invasion of Iraq where over 1 million civilians were killed. He is known for is brutality and his disdain of the “material youth” of today’s society. Needless to say, he is also a war hawk.
It is important to note that none of these positions are set in stone yet, as they still require Senate approval. Likewise, there are many other Cabinet-level nominations that are not covered. Some of these positions are highly controversial, even within the Republican-controlled Senate. It is still early and it is not entirely clear what each candidate’s plans are for their new position. It appears, by all accounts that Trump’s new Cabinet may be impeding justice of every kind. It is terrifying. Where a country already appears to be divided, could Trump’s presidency become the start of another war?
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