February 5, 2017

The Restoration of Leadership

Steven Kurson ‘20


On November 9, 2016, Donald Trump shocked the world and was elected president on the promise that he would restore American greatness and help the struggling middle class. He said that one of the most consequential ways of doing this would be by surrounding himself with the brightest and most capable people.
Appointing members to his cabinet are some of the most critical choices he will make as president, but Trump sent a strong message to the American people that he intends to fulfill his promise and better the American people’s lives.
Typically, incoming presidents select Washington insiders and career politicians who have spent their lives trying to ascend up the ranks of power. However, Trump does not feel bound by the usual rules of politics and chose people who will actually be able to effectively carry out their jobs.
For example, one of Trump’s most significant nominations, Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson, has never held a government position and was therefore considered a shocking choice to many. However, he is in many ways the best possible choice to lead this country's foreign policy.
As the CEO of ExxonMobil, he has traveled the world, met with the most powerful world leaders and negotiated at the highest stakes. Tillerson even has a working relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin because they have had business ties in the past.
Now, of course, Tillerson shouldn’t give Putin whatever he wants and there is no reason to think he will, but he will be in a prime position to do what no U.S. leader has done in decades: form a good relationship with Russia and ease the tensions that have been throwing the world into constant threat of nuclear war.
Another one of Trump’s picks with no prior political office was Dr. Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Carson grew up very poor in Detroit, Michigan and therefore knows first hand what it is like to live in tough living conditions.
He understands better than any politician what needs to be done to help people get better housing and to grow the cities so that they work better for the people living there. His appointment gives the people living hard lives a person who can empathize with them.
His soon-to-be Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, is also someone who has never been in politics before. He has clear knowledge of what is needed to be done to maintain economic stability as he held a job as a 17-year partner at Goldman Sachs and even started his own bank, OneWest. His fiscal responsibility will serve our country well.
However, Trump was, when necessary, willing to bring in people with vast government experience.
He selected South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. She has experience in this type of position, having served as the Ambassador for South Carolina before being elected as governor.
Now this isn’t to say that I like all of Trump’s picks. Former Texas Governor Rick Perry has been put in charge of the Department of Energy, even though he said in the presidential campaign that he would dismantle the Department of Energy as president. Scott Pruitt has been chosen to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, even though in earlier years he has sued the EPA. It is not in America’s best interest to appoint someone to lead a department they had previously sought to eliminate.
No cabinet can be perfect. But overall, Trump’s picks have led to the formation of a government that will be able to effectively better the lives of the people of this country because they really know how to run the agencies they are charged with running.
They lead to great confidence that his presidency will live up to his campaign slogan and “Make America Great Again.”
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