Emily Kowalik ’18
Assistant Opinions Editor
Many politicians and commentators have asked that Americans give Donald Trump a chance to prove that his presidency will be more temperate than his campaign, with a more moderate stance on issues he had previously taken a controversial stance on. In some ways Trump has already presented a more toned-down, tempered image of himself. For example, he has backed down on several key campaign pronouncements, such as assigning a special prosecutor to try, and then jail, Hillary Clinton, and to send the whole of Obamacare to the scrapheap.
On the other hand, Trump’s steps to assemble a White House team bring to mind Trump’s unconventional and controversial campaign. The transition team planning, not having been well-prepared to begin with, has continually been faced with divisiveness and scandal.
The lobby of Trump Tower, where Trump’s transition work is taking place, has evolved into a veritable circus – with reporters hanging around all day recording the movements of everyone entering to meet with Trump.
One controversy has incited much speculation about the amount of influence wielded by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, in Trump’s transition planning. Some believe that Kushner’s involvement is what led to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie being replaced as leader of the transition team by vice president-elect Mike Pence.
And this is hardly the only controversy brought up concerning the role of Trump’s children. Much criticism has been stirred up concerning the many official meetings that have involved Trump’s children, since his children are to head Trump’s businesses and financial affairs once he assumes office.
Though many may have hoped that Trump would give up some of his more petty antics upon becoming president-elect, this does not appear to be the case. Trump’s Twitter barrages, while occasionally seasoned with more diplomatic announcements, are still ever-present. Recently, Trump took to Twitter to vent his anger about a speech the cast of Hamilton made to audience member Mike Pence after their performance. Trump made another spectacle by inviting many top journalists and media executives from the five largest TV networks to visit him at Trump Tower, and then disparaging them for how they presented him in the media.
Several of Trump’s early choices to fill integral positions have been worrisome, especially Stephen K. Bannon, who has been chosen to fill the role of Chief Strategist. Bannon is a major figure of the alt-right, an element on the fringe of conservatism. He is also the head of Breitbart News, a site advocating alt-right views. These views are, by and large, reactionary and seated in white chauvinism and anti-Semitism, as is seen by headlines such as “Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew.” By bringing a member of the alt-right movement to such high prominence in his administration, Trump may allow the formerly obscure alt-right to become mainstream and emboldened.
Other transition team picks include Michael Flynn, as National Security Adviser, and Jeff Sessions, as Attorney General. These choices have provoked criticism due to earlier statements made by these officials which disparage racial and religious minorities, including Muslims, Jews and African Americans.
These appointments give many who may have wished to give Trump the benefit of the doubt at the beginning of his presidency a reason to question whether Trump has any real intention to work towards uniting all Americans, despite his recent promises.