The resurgence of ISIS, the grinding Syrian civil war, flexing of Russian muscles under President Vladimir Putin, establishing tighter national borders, implementing stringent fiscal policy, repealing the Affordable Care Act, divesting conflicts of interests, managing a questionable Cabinet filled with individuals accounting billions in net worth... the list goes on. None will doubt that as of midday of January 20th, being the 45th President of the United States stands to be the most unenviable task there could possibly be.
And to that, Donald J. Trump says to a reporter of the Times of London:
If I may, Mr President, I suggest you get to work right away.
Despite Inauguration Day having passed, the guessing game of a Trump presidency continues as the American people question whether Trump can sustain the success of his term the way he did his campaign. The American people have found their unlikely champion in a billionaire businessman, of who has broken every known convention of presidential style, most notably observed in the ways in which he has eschewed typical campaign-building, picked fights with the media, and maintained almost no consistent ideologies.
Perhaps the main concern at this point is not whether a government run under the Trump administration will plunge into chaos the moment he takes the Oath of Office, but how Trump and his team intend to use the institutions they inherit. Unfortunately, his pick of Cabinet nominees have done little to allay such qualms of uncertainty. Trump’s picks reveal a penchant for military brass, political outsiders, Wall Street titans and of course, white men and women.
Source: ABC News
Most recently, Trump’s nominee for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos came under intense scrutiny after failing to answer a basic question on education policy during her Senate confirmation. The Republican billionaire and philanthropist made it apparent that she was unaware of the difference between proficiency and growth in learning, a longstanding debate that has had U.S. policymakers at a stand-still for decades.
Speaking on the issue of inexperience also brings to name two other candidates: former Texas Governor Rick Perry and retired paediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson. The Perry pick to head the Department of Energy is a cause of concern given the mismatch of skills and perspectives Perry commands and those necessary to run the department’s $30 billion budget focusing on nuclear energy, security, weapons, R&D and clean-up. Even overlooking his dangerous lack of scientific knowledge, climate change scepticism, as well as his suspicious ties to the fossil fuel industry, Perry’s experience pales in comparison to that of his predecessors: Dr Ernest Moniz, a distinguished nuclear physicist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and esteemed Nobel laureate and physicist Steven Chu.
Source: The Huffington Post
The same can be said about Ben Carson being appointed Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which has everyone from big-city mayors, housing experts and the many low-income families who rely on HUD support anxious due to his lack of government nor housing experience. Other potentially calamitous appointments include Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon, founder of the website Breitbart, which mongers false information, overblown conspiracy theories and dog-whistles of the far-right. On a policy level this rings resounding alarms, as the man who revels in White Nationalistic, anti-Semitic conversation casually occupies the seat next to the president and counsels his every decision.
Lastly, perhaps the most formidable candidate that stands out above the rest is former Chief Executive Officer of ExxonMobil Rex Tillerson. The criticism for Tillerson has thus far been bipartisan, with Democrats and Republicans both voicing reservations for a number of reasons - most prominently Tillerson’s murky relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the many Russian-partnered ExxonMobil projects he has spearheaded that contradict U.S. sanctions against Russia, and his constant denial and downplay of his company’s defrauding of climate change issues. Given such a track record and his many conflicts of interest, Tillerson has everyone wondering whether he will put oil profits ahead of national interests when the doors to U.S. foreign policy are opened before him.
On Trump's side, there have been little improvement in the magnate's efforts to resolve the alarming mass of business entanglements that threaten to tarnish the sanctity of his office. In Trump properties around the world, eager hotel bookings by diplomats are amassing by the hundreds to curry favour to the newly elected president, potentially violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which prohibits federal employees from accepting gifts from foreign officials. Indeed, steps have been taken to address such problems, like dissolving the family charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, exploring the possibility of bringing in an outside, independent monitor to oversee operations and pulling back from all foreign transactions. However, the enormous thicket of ethical dilemmas will continue to exist if Trump refuses to liquidate his holdings and put his assets in a blind trust not controlled by his children, as so earnestly urged by his lawyers, ethics experts and members of Congress alike.
To borrow the words of Winston Churchill: “Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma,” and quite frankly, so are its ties to the new president. Trump’s strange affection for Russian President Vladimir Putin ought to be a cause for concern to the American people, especially given their recent interference in the hacking of emails of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) during the 2016 presidential elections. What is even more worrisome is how ‘Russia-friendly’ Trump’s foreign agenda is, accompanied by his Cabinet picks General Michael Flynn and, of course, Rex Tillerson who coincidentally received the Medal of Friendship from President Putin himself. In all honesty, it is undeniable that the Leader of the Free World and Russia’s autocratic dictator make an unlikely, and extremely insidious duo indeed.
Perhaps more important in the eyes of every American is the way a Trump Presidency would redefine the common notions of what it means to be an American. His gloomy inauguration speech was riddled with themes of staunch protectionism but devoid of freedom, and seems to suggest a stark dichotomy between American ascent and global demise. Granted, there is some merit to the overall mind-set of Trump’s campaign, with its imperatives to both accuse and to challenge with all its scepticism that have in fact shed light on new perspectives and problems. What’s more important is rejecting bigotry as part of the international conversation, and moving forward with faith in Trump that he will live up to his expectations and promises. Knowing Trump, who’s every move has been unprecedented and unpredictable up until today, I can only say; expect the unexpected.