Elect Trump, they said. He’ll clean up Washington, they said. Yet, just over a month after being elected, Trump’s new cabinet is being cherry picked from the same swamp he promised to drain.
From U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), to GOP Chairman Reince Priebus, Wall Street banker Steve Mnuchin and more – the incoming administration is a hodge podge of the status quo. The President-elect’s appointment selections have raised typical red flags from liberals, but more importantly have faced a wave of criticism from some Republicans. And rightfully so.
These appointees also signal that the Trump Administration’s policies will be dredged from the same swampy spheres that he successfully ran against.
Some of then-candidate-Trump’s proposals were debatably libertarian: cutting taxes, ending regime change in the Middle East, and advocating the notion that federal bureaucracies and the Washington elite are harming – not helping – everyday Americans. Most libertarian-leaning and small government voters agree with that exemplary laundry list of reforms. However, none of Trump’s key appointees agree with such reforms.
Sure, Trump may have appointed a few outsiders with de-regulation in mind, and that should provide some relief to the liberty movement, but many of the President-elect’s key appointments are alarming.
Let’s take Senator Sessions, for example, who is Trump’s pick for Attorney General. Not only is Sessions the epitome of a career politician having worked in the public sector since 1975, but he’s a devout marijuana prohibitionist. Talk about establishment. The potential A.G.’s archaic views on medical marijuana hurts patients in need and prevents free market innovation – all on the backs of the American taxpayers.
And let’s not forget Sessions’ terrible record on criminal justice issues and civil liberties. His questionable stances were enough to bar his U.S. district judicial appointment to southern Alabama back in 1986 in part for his his overtly racist sentiment in the workplace. Not to mention, Sessions opposes even the most modest of reforms to America’s prison system. A justice system, mind you, that is internationally notorious for skyrocketing incarceration rates, racial disparities in sentencing, and financial insolvency. Add three decades of political hackery and no “evolution” on the issues to illustrate just how hellish his 2017 appointment process will be. If anything, Senator Sessions is exactly the type of politician who would be forced into retirement by Trump’s Congressional term limits.
Trump’s pick for Secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin, is no friend of the common man – the backbone of Trump’s base. As the son of a Goldman Sachs banker with over 15 years of experience at the financial institution himself, Mnuchin’s career reflects the profile of folks Trump blasted during campaign season.
In a recent interview, Mnuchin praised the work of the current Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen. As a prodigy of Wall Street cronyism, it should come as no surprise that Mnuchin gave the stamp-of-approval on America’s darkest institution. After all, banks like Goldman Sachs rely the Fed to stay afloat. If it weren’t for the Fed’s secret bailouts, something conservatives used to decry, they would be susceptible to market demands like everyone else. So much for the Federal Reserve reforms demanded by Trump and his supporters during the campaign.
Mnuchin’s admiration of the current Fed chairperson says enough about the Treasury nominee to elicit skepticism from libertarian and conservative voters. How is it that one can expect real change from an administration that appoints a Secretary of the Treasury who isn’t concerned about the inflation rates of nation $20 trillion in debt? If Mnuchin agrees with the work of Federal Reserve chairmen and Treasury Secretaries under the Bush and Obama Administrations, one can expect reckless spending, crony bailouts, and disastrous inflation to continue.
The proverbial swamp can’t be drained if the president clogs the pipes with sludge. Appointing Reince Priebus, the literal head of the Republican establishment, as White House Chief of Staff seems antithetical to his campaign. Some pundits say Priebus was chosen to appease the D.C. establishment, but if the American people wanted more of the same, they would’ve elected Jeb Bush or Priebus’s pal Scott Walker.
Furthermore, selecting Dr. Ben Carson to head a cabinet completely out of his expertise – something Carson himself admitted – appears like a deal gone wrong. And choosing Wilbur Ross, one who prefers progressive protectionist trade policies such as the Carrier deal, as Commerce Secretary suggests the potential miscalculations of Trumpian economics.
So the question remains: are Trump’s “First 100 Days” reform proposals simply lip service to his base? It’s starting to appear as such.
Flip-flops and political favors are defining a Trump presidency before it even begins, and that “bigly” sends a message to the people who put him in the Oval Office. To their despair, the hope of political and economic change is dwindling.
The Trump campaign contrasted itself from the Clinton machine by exposing Washington’s revolving door with special interests. Trump established himself as a defender of everyday Americans by waging war on the “globalists.” He distinguished himself as a small business advocate who isn’t a puppet of the bankers. Trump was the average American, and Hillary Clinton a Wall Street sell-out.
However, Trump’s administration is serving up a gold-plated cocktail of career politicians and globalist executives – the exact poison he sobered voters up from. But, more importantly, will the American people take a sip?
Matthew Johnathan is a libertarian activist based in Washington, D.C.