A major element that usually is missing in presidential campaign dialogue is the question of who the candidates would bring on to staff their administration, aside from the vice president, that is, who would actually deal with the details of managing the federal government over the next four years. But this election year is different, in that both major candidates have White House staffing records, putting voters in a better than usual position to know the kind of person likely to be running things.

On the one hand, we have the existing cabinet of President Biden, an assemblage of experienced officials of demonstrated competence, public spirit, and good-faith dedication to the overall welfare of the country, the likes of Antony Blinken at State, Janet Yellen at Treasury, Merrick Garland at Justice, Lloyd Austin at Defense, Tom Vilsack at Agriculture, and Pete Buttigieg at Transportation. One could reasonably expect a cabinet of similar quality in the second Biden administration. That is, a cabinet we could trust to continue to work in the best interests of the American people.

On other hand, members of the 2017-2021 Trump administration ranged from the perfectly acceptable, at least at first, to seriously inexperienced (including members of Trump’s own family), or hyperpartisan, and in some cases hostile to the missions of the departments or agencies they were leading.

The big question now is who Trump would bring with him to a second administration. We can only speculate at this point, but the conservative Heritage Foundation offers a foretaste with its “Project 2025” plan to, among other things, introduce radical change throughout government departments and agencies, to make it easier to implement conservative priorities.

Another group to watch is the America First Policy Institute, which publicizes a laundry list of objectives, including, of course, tax cuts, parental control of schools, resistance to gun control efforts, protection for religious liberty, and plans to “dismantle the administrative state,” whatever that means.

And this doesn’t even touch on Trump’s own wild campaign rhetoric of revenge, retribution, and threats of domestic military deployment against his opponents. He and his supporters are warning us. We’d be well advised to keep all this mind when we go to the polls.

Tom Eichler


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