Just Another Puppet?: Trump’s Establishment Cabinet Picks, Back-Tracking Raise Concerns

Despite campaigning as an “anti-establishment” maverick, Trump is lining his cabinet and transition team with Washington insiders and already back-tracking from campaign trail promises.

Everyone remembers 2008. Barack Obama had been elected after promising to end needless wars, lift up the poor and minorities, and stand up to the big banks among others. However, once elected, Wall Street banks chose his cabinet and transition team and Obama’s presidency was not all that different than a third term of his predecessor, George W. Bush, giving the office of the president nothing more than a face lift. Fast forward 8 years later and history seems to be repeating itself. Donald Trump, a billionaire whose campaign was based around strong anti-establishment feelings and corruption-busting promises, appears to have followed in Obama’s footsteps by surrounding himself with Washington insiders, bankers, and a slew of other decidedly “establishment” characters.
Trump’s likely pick for Secretary of State is said to be Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, a vocal Trump supporter. Gingrich, in June, said that he supports the formation of a House Committee on Un-American activities, which could give rise to the neo-McCarthyism that many Trump supporters sought to avoid by not voting for Trump’s opponent in the election, Hillary Clinton. Another likely pick is Trump’s finance chairman, Steven Mnuchin, a 17-year veteran of Goldman Sachs and current CEO of private investment firm Dune Capital Management. With Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary, Trump’s campaign promises to restore the Glass-Steagall Act and to reign in the big banks are unlikely to materialize. Forrest Lucas, co-founder of Lucas oil products, is Trump’s top pick for Secretary of the Interior. The Secretary of the Interior oversees the Bureau of Land Management, the management of federal lands and natural resources, and land conflicts between the government and Native Americans. It goes without saying that an oil executive in such a position of power would continue the BLM’s exploitation of public land for fracking and oil use and would ignore and escalate tensions with Native American communities by ramming through controversial projects such as the Dakota Access pipeline. Lucas has also spoken out against animal rights and advocate trophy hunting and big agribusiness.
Though none of these potential cabinet picks are set in stone, Trump’s back-tracking on other key issues has kept suspicion regarding his real intentions alive and well. Just today, Trump announced that he will consider keeping part of Obamacare, a healthcare program extremely unpopular with Trump supporters. One of Trump’s most frequently repeated promises was the complete elimination of Obamacare, conflicting with his transition team’s website, which says : “A Trump Administration will work with Congress to repeal the ACA and replace it with a solution that includes Health Savings Accounts, and returns the historic role in regulating health insurance to the States,” according to the website.

In addition, Trump’s pledge to protect Social Security, which alienated him from “hard-line” Republicans, appears to have been called into question as well as those overseeing Social Security on his transition team have previously campaigned to privatize the program. One could argue that Trump has made no final decisions regarding these policies or cabinet picks, yet his sudden changes of heart and questionable choices as of late should draw great concern and consternation from those who voted him into power as well as the rest of us. Though a Clinton win would have undoubtedly resulted in a similar pattern of events, if Trump does revert to the “establishment’s” agenda, it will be up to Trump supporters and opponents alike to make sure real, meaningful change takes place.

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