Biden begins selecting new presidential cabinet


Used with permission from Google Commons

President-elect Joe Biden speaks at the 2019 Iowa Federation of Labor convention Aug. 21 in Altoona, Iowa.

After a shaky election season full of campaigning and propaganda—all during a pandemic—Joe Biden was announced the winner of the presidential election, earning 306 electoral college votes after flipping the southern state of Georgia. While a large portion of the populace has yet to accept these results, the rest of the country (and the world) is moving forward. In fact, Biden has already begun selecting the members of his Cabinet, including an all-female senior White House communications team he announced Nov. 29.

As the country grapples with an ever rising number of COVID cases and deaths, the president-elect’s message is one of rebuilding, and along with a new president-elect comes a (somewhat) new cabinet. While Biden has yet to name certain staff picks like CIA Director, Attorney General, and the new Secretary of Education, he has announced others.

For example, he picked Antony Blinken to serve as Secretary of State, and Marcia Fudge as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. However, certain picks are tentative, as they require confirmation from the Senate, and which party is to hold the majority is yet to be determined. “I’m scared that some of his picks might not make it in Congress,” junior and Activists Club secretary Maya Chelar said. “In particular, Marcia Fudge is a risky pick because she was nominated to serve as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development instead of at the agricultural department, where most of her past experience has been.”

Biden’s cabinet picks show what was expected: he intends to carry out his presidency as similarly to the Obama administration as possible. This is reflected by his cabinet, which features administrative veterans from the Obama years.

Biden’s picks also reflect a level of diversity that hasn’t been seen in a presidential cabinet before. “In my opinion, Biden’s cabinet picks are record setting, and I think that he chose his picks very wisely. Some picks that particularly stand out to me are those of Avril Haines, Janet Yellen, and Gen. Lloyd Austin III. If both [Haines and Austin] are confirmed, Haines would be the first woman to serve as the nation’s top intelligence official, and Lloyd would be the first African American to lead the defense department,” Chelar said.

However, others believe “there has not yet been a single person announced that the left can be enthusiastic about,” Nathan Robinson of The Guardian said.

While none have caused a call to action from Democrats thus far, there have been picks unfavorable for progressives and liberal activist groups. Take John Kerry, Biden’s pick as special envoy for climate, for example, who Robinson says may acknowledge climate change exists, but “will almost certainly attempt phony business-friendly ‘solutions’ and half-measures.” (It is important to note that The Guardian does have a left-leaning bias).

Biden also recently announced his appointment of former Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg as transportation secretary. “This pick surprised me, because I couldn’t understand at first glance why he [Buttigieg] would want to be transportation secretary. But after reading about it, it makes sense. It gives him a huge platform to expand his influence on DC politics,” senior and Wootton 4 Change president Sameeha Malek said.

Although Buttigieg is a Democrat, his appointment may represent a more moderate stance being taken by the Biden administration. “Personally, I don’t like Buttigieg. How he handled BLM protestors and the South Bend Police Department chief, and his overall political views are doing less to push Biden to the left and more on leaning him even more so to the center, a common feeling that I’ve recognized while looking at the other cabinet members as well,” Malek said.

While this moderacy does not bode well for progressives, who were hoping for greater opportunity for policy change after the Trump administration, it may do well to bring those on the right (and those who did not vote for Biden) a feeling of unity and American inclusion.