Along for the Ride: How Trump’s Newest Cabinet Members Could Be the Horsemen of a Fascist AmericaPhoto by Drew Angerer/Getty Politics Features Donald Trump
Just like Donald Trump’s unanticipated election to the country’s highest office, his cabinet appointments to date are equally as startling.
Trump’s selections are perfect for the job of ushering in the reign of American Fascism: right-wing extremism, coupled with intolerance and overbearing authoritarianism. Their remarks and political stances seem to come directly in opposition to the American values of equality, progress, and free speech.
Sen. Jeff Sessions-Attorney General
The U.S. attorney turned Senator from Alabama supported Trump’s run for president from the beginning. In February, he became the first U.S. Senator to support him. He was hand selected by Trump to be Attorney General, the head of the Department of Justice.
However, Sessions, in 1986, could not be confirmed as a federal judge because of racist comments he admitted to saying during a trial of the KKK in which members of the Klan lynched a black man and slit his throat, in retaliation for the killing of a white cop. Upon learning that the KKK members had indulged in marijuana before the incident, Sessions replied that the KKK was “OK until I found out they smoked pot.” These statements were confirmed through the testimony of former colleagues. These statements forced the Republican-controlled, Regan-era Congress to strike down his nomination as a federal judge. But unfortunately, that’s not all. Sessions has even implied that Martin Luther King Jr. and his aides had attempted to commit voter fraud. As a federal prosecutor, he brought voter fraud charges against three civil rights workers trying to register black voters in Alabama.
Sessions has also made racist, shameful comments to and against former colleagues. Former assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Figures, who worked under Sessions, recalled multiple occasions where Sessions referred to him as “boy.” Sessions at one point also advised Figures to “be careful what you say to white folks” after Figures spoke sternly to a secretary who happened to be white.
Another U.S attorney, J.Gerald Herbert, testified in front of Congress that Sessions had described the ACLU and NAACP as “un-American,” “communist-inspired,” and that they “forced civil rights down the throats of people.” Herbert also asserted that Sessions had referred to a prominent white lawyer as a “disgrace to his race,” and when confronted about the statement, Sessions replied “Well, maybe he is.” Sessions is also a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage and federal hate-crimes legislation.
This is the man that President-Elect Trump has selected to be the voice and mind of American justice. Yet, Sessions in many ways is the picture of what deep-seated racism looks like. It would not be illogical to doubt the ability of Sessions to conduct fair, thorough investigation into issues of justice like police killings of black men. He also stands in opposition to expanding the definition of hate-crime to include the LGBTQ community, the legalization of gay marriage, and workplace protections for LGBTQ Americans.
Lt. Gen. Flynn-National Security Advisor
Before his latest appointment by president-elect Trump, retired Lt. Gen.Flynn was the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. However, two years into Flynn’s three-year term, James Clapper the Director of national intelligence, and the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, Michael Vickers, called Flynn in and forced him to resign. He was dismissed because of his highly combative style and the inability to effectively follow through on his aggressive pushes for change.
Flynn, like his new boss, is susceptible to angry twitter ranting, tweeting out in February this year that “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL”.
Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL: please forward this to others: the truth fears no questions… https://t.co/NLIfKFD9lU
— General Flynn (@GenFlynn) February 27, 2016
This August, he called the religion of Islam a “cancer” and “a political ideology” that “hides behind this notion of being a religion.” These views and the justification of being afraid of certain groups is coincidentally (or intentionally, depending on who you are talking to) how the military has justified Japanese internment camps and Native American genocide in the past. To Flynn’s former military colleagues, his statements are most disturbing, not because of the racist tone, but because they reveal a lack of comprehensive, in-depth analytical ability. And if anyone should be able to analyze people, history, and current political environment, it should be the National Security Advisor, especially when advising a president with no formal foreign policy experience. Now more than ever, Islamophobia can hinder proper observation of facts necessary to make sound foreign policy and military decisions, let alone the outright justification of Islamophobia made by Flynn. And since the post of National Security Advisor does not need to be confirmed in the Senate, we are most definitely stuck with him.
Rep. Mike Pompeo – Director of the CIA
Mike Pompeo is not only a Representative from the state of Kansas and a member of the House Intelligence Committee, but also a Tea Party Republican. He won his election in Kansas in 2010 with the new wave of the Tea Party’s grassroots support as well as financial backing from Koch Industries, a corporation known for also funding public school resegregation in the South and climate change denial.
After the Boston marathon bombing, while delivering a speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, Pompeo said that Muslim Americans and Islamic leaders did not speak out enough against terror attacks and could therefore be “potentially complicit” in those attacks. He has also stated his hopes that whistleblower Eric Snowden would receive the death penalty for revealing secrets about the US domestic surveillance program. Pompeo is also the founder of Thayer Aerospace, a manufacturer of commercial and military aircraft components. Koch Industries was an investor.
Pompeo was and still is strongly opposed to the international agreement to curtail Iran’s nuclear program, a huge accomplishment of the Obama administration. And although the CIA has little to do with the healthcare system, Pompeo has referred to Obamacare as a ”train wreck”. All in all, he his very pro-surveillance whether it be abroad or at home. In 2015, he introduced the Liberty Through Strength Act to the House of Representatives, which would give the NSA access to “certain business records” and the FBI access to communication records.
Gov. Nikki Haley – U.N. Ambassador
Born the child of Indian immigrants in Indiana, Haley is the only female, minority pick for Trump’s administration so far. Haley has served as a House representative for South Carolina and currently as the state’s governor. She has no experience in a federal post and little to no formal foreign policy experience. She was praised for her leadership after the Emmanuel African Episcopal Church shooting in Charleston, when a white supremacist shot 9 people during a prayer service. She oversaw the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina Statehouse after the incident. She has also been an important critic of Trump, denouncing him for his divisive views on immigration and for not disavowing the white supremacists who support him. Haley is a breath of fresh air to Trump’s very old, very white cabinet appointments. However, you are just as good as the other horsemen if you hold the reigns for them as they destroy American values.
Treasury Secretary – Steve Mnuchin
Like Trump, Mnuchin is also considered an establishment outsider, if you count Goldman Sachs to be outside of political policymaking (Hint: it is most definitely not. In fact, you could say that Goldman Sachs is “all up in the koolaid” of fiscal policy). Mnuchin was a top executive at Goldman Sachs for over 17 years, making him one of the largest beneficiaries of Obama’s bank bailout incentive. Goldman Sachs alone received about $10 billion of bailout cash. During his time there, Mnuchin participated “in all the worst practices on Wall street” and “robbed our working class” according to Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Fun fact: He also made a profit about $3 million off of the infamous Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme.
Although Mnuchin has no formal experience in politics, he definitely does in policymaking. However, the deals he makes only benefit greedy, immoral financial institutions, himself, and the top one percent of Americans who own 99 percent of the country’s wealth. This goes directly against the promises made by Trump that “law and order will be restored and the poorest people in our country will know safety and peace again,” that he will build a government that is “lean, effective, responsible, and honest” and “end the corruption and restore integrity to government service.”
However, it can be no mistake that Mnuchin knows what the American people want to hear and see.This will definitely aid him in spinning some ridiculous excuse of a story that the American people will go with. This makes him dangerous, as every “great” Fascist state has heavily relied on propaganda and distraction to literally get away with murder. And do not doubt that he knows what could distract best, what statements should be made if the American people voice concern, as he has bankrolled several blockbusters such as Avatar, American Sniper, and the X-Men franchise since leaving Goldman Sachs to be a film financier with Dune Capital.
Can Mnuchin be trusted to fairly and properly tax Americans or carry out the law enforcement initiatives made by the Treasury, when he is a part of what some call the “greatest financial scandal in human history”? Should he be formulating fiscal policy and managing debt? Probably not, if you expect financial policies to benefit the majority of Americans.
These nominations will most likely be confirmed, and that’s partly the fault of the Democratic Party. Democrats were frustrated by what they saw as Republican dawdling on President Obama’s selections for his White House administration and federal judgeships. They passed a law which allows for only a simple majority of senators to confirm appointments rather than the 60 votes typically needed. However, now that the Republicans have the majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the Democrats most powerful weapon will likely be used against them.
Politics and History are often described as pendulums that swing back and forth. With the imminent coming of the Trump administration, there will be a definite change when it comes to the trajectory of average Americans.