The confusing and stressful aftermath of President-elect Donald Trump’s victory on Nov. 8 had some Americans hoping the businessman will serve as a more liberal president than initially expected. With the appointment of problematic and controversial politicians to cabinet, however, Trump has proved that he can be a large threat to democracy and human rights once he occupies the Oval Office. The Tuesday Nov. 15 staff editorial for The New York Times explains the situation perfectly: “Anyone holding out hope that Donald Trump would govern as a uniter—that the racism, sexism, anti-Semitism and nativism of his campaign were just poses to pick up votes—should think again.”
The most significant issue with Trump’s first moves within his cabinet is his appointment of Stephen Bannon as the chief White House strategist and senior counselor.
Bannon—former executive chairman of the network that owns inflammatory conservative website Breitbart News—was endorsed for the position by both the current chairman of the American Nazi Party and a former Ku Klux Klan imperial wizard.
Bannon openly supports the dangerous ideology of the “alt-right,” described by The New York Times as a “group of mostly young men who believe in white supremacy; oppose immigration, feminism and multiculturalism; and delight in harassing Jews, Muslims and other vulnerable groups by spewing shocking insults on social media.” A few of Bannon’s former colleagues also denounced him as “nasty” and “terrifying.”
Other potential candidates for cabinet positions are not promising either. Myron Ebell—a prominent climate change skeptic—is being considered for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator and Joe Arpaio—controversial sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona who is accused of rampant racial profiling and inhumane treatment of inmates—is being considered for Homeland Security Secretary.
There is no question that the behind-the-scenes positions in the White House could have more power and be more dangerous than Trump as an individual. Paired with a majority Republican Congress, our government is more conservative than it has been in decades. The next four years will be a test of how far away our country can drift from hopeful progressivism and positive change.