While President-elect Trump may be a controversial figure in politics, there was one particular part of Donald Trump’s message that almost the entire country supports; “draining the swamp.” In other words, nearly all Americans want to get rid of corruption in Washington, and Bernie Sanders had a similar policy position on getting rid of corruption which propelled him through the primaries. Many feel President- elect Trump is the best person to get rid of corruption because he is not part of the corruption himself.
Just two weeks since Donald Trump became our president-elect, members of Trump’s transition team have been revealed; and that is the problem. Donald Trump’s transition team consists of lobbyists, donors, loyal political allies, and family members. While there are currently lobbyists and donors on Trump’s transition team, CNN reports that they are quietly being removed due to uproar. Additionally, the President-elect has proposed a five year ban for lobbyists to stop members of government from using their powers for personal enrichment.
President-elect Trump also announced his Chief of Staff will be Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee Chairman. While it is clear Priebus played a role in getting Trump into the White House, Priebus is part of the “establishment.” He started off as a party insider, and ran for state senate and lost in the early 2000s. He then became the Wisconsin State Republican Party Chairman, and in 2011 was chosen Chairman of the RNC. Donald Trump ran a campaign about taking on the political class, and is now making a party insider his Chief of Staff.
Additionally, Donald Trump named campaign CEO and executive chairman of Breitbart News, Steve Bannon, as his “Senior Strategist.” This has created a lot of outrage with progressives as well as Republicans who consider themselves “Never Trump.”
Steve Bannon is a controversial figure due to the headlines and topics in which Breitbart discusses. Additionally, Bannon’s ex-wife has stated that Bannon did not want their daughters going to a certain private school because he did not want them to turn into “whiny brats” around other girls of the Jewish faith. His ex-wife also said he frequently made anti semitic comments, and used racial and homophobic slurs.
Bannon is associated with the “alt-right,” a far-right part of the political spectrum that features conservatism and nationalism (in some cases White nationalism, homophobia, sexism, etc.) While Bannon may not admit he is part of the alt-right movement, his web site is popular with conservative nationalists, and he himself is frequently described as a white supremacist.
While Steve Bannon did NOT write these articles or headlines, he was the executive chairman of the media site, and did not stop them from being published.
“BIRTH CONTROL MAKES WOMEN UNATTRACTIVE AND CRAZY”
“GABBY GIFFORDS: THE GUN CONTROL MOVEMENT’S HUMAN SHIELD”
“OBAMA ADMINISTRATION PAVES THE WAY FOR SHARIA LAW”
“WOULD YOU RATHER YOUR CHILD HAVE FEMINISM OR CANCER?”
“THERE’S NO HIRING BIAS AGAINST WOMEN IN TECH, THEY JUST SUCK AT INTERVIEWS”
Many Democrats and Republicans are speaking out against Steve Bannon or trying to deflect from the issue. Democrats including Senator Elizabeth Warren have asked for Trump to remove Steve Bannon from the administration, and Senator Mitch McConnell (Senate Majority Leader) refused to answer questions about the issue.
It seems as if the Trump transition team is testing out how Americans react to different politicians and leaders; John Bolton and Rudy Giuliani were and are being considered for Secretary of State, but Giuliani has no foreign policy experience and Bolton has made controversial comments that show Bolton believes in a more interventionist form of foreign policy. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has said he would not confirm either Giuliani or Bolton for Secretary of State, and that their lack of experience and military expansion policies are alarming.
Since journalists and elected officials have spoken out against John Bolton and Rudy Giuliani, there are now reports that the transition team is considering Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina and former GOP nominee Mitt Romney. This tells us that the Trump transition team does care what we think; but it can also tell us that the team is going through a time of uncertainty.
General Mike Flynn is also being considered by President-elect Trump as a national security advisor; Flynn is a controversial figure as well, as he has tweeted multiple times, comparing Islam to cancer. While it is unclear whether or not General Flynn will have an official role in the Trump Administration, many are flustered by the fact that he is even considered. How can one of the chief architects for our foreign policy link a peaceful religion over one billion follow to a potentially fatal disease?
The drama does not end there; Representative Mike Pompeo of Kansas will now be the head of the CIA. Pompeo has advocated for executing Edward Snowden, a controversial figure who leaked information of how the federal government is spying on Americans. Snowden is in hiding, and progressives tend to side with him. Conservatives generally believe he is guilty of treason, and it does not look like Snowden will be coming back to the United States anytime soon.
But wait, there’s more! President-elect Trump has also announced that he will be appointing Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama as the Attorney General of the United States. Sessions was appointed while Ronald Reagan was president for a federal judge position, but was not confirmed by Congress due to racist remarks he made. Reports suggest that Senator Sessions had said when discussing the Ku Klux Klan that “they were okay until I found out they smoked pot.” The Ku Klux Klan is a group that has terrorized racial and religious minorities for over a century, and having an Attorney General who jokes about the Klan and does not condemn it is pretty disturbing.
For many, watching Trump appoint members to his new government is scary. Protesters are continuing to protest against Trump and his message throughout the country, and Vice President-elect Mike Pence was booed and lectured by an audience and the cast of the play “Hamilton.” It does not seem like the divides have healed yet.