Michael D. Shear in the New York Times yesterday:
They are President-elect Donald J. Trump’s disrupters.
Seven men and one woman named by Mr. Trump to run vast government agencies share a common trait: once they are confirmed, their presence is meant to unnerve — and maybe even outright undermine — the bureaucracies they are about to lead.
Some of those chosen — 17 picks so far for federal agencies and five for the White House — are among the most radical selections in recent history. Other presidents’ nominees, even when controversial, were often veterans of the Washington bureaucracy and generally believed in it. But a number of Mr. Trump’s most important selections have no experience in federal government and a great drive to undo it.
Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma state attorney general who was picked to lead the E.P.A., rejects the established science of human-caused climate change and has built his career on fighting environmental regulations. At the Education Department, Betsy DeVos wants to steer government money away from traditional public schools. Rick Perry was picked to head the Energy Department — unless he eliminates it, as he once promised.
“Donald Trump ran to make the governing people uncomfortable,” said Andrew H. Card Jr., who served as chief of staff to former President George W. Bush and as transportation secretary for his father. “He clearly picked people to lead some of these departments who will be challenging to the insiders.”
Okay, so basically Trump is picking people with the sole intent of pissing off the establishment. He said he would do that, so yip yah. But then what?
He — and the Republicans in Congress — said they will repeal Obamacare. Then what? So far their suggestions for replacing it sound a lot like Obamacare.
He said he was going to “fix the budget” and he’s appointed a Tea Party balanced-budget amendment advocate to do it, but he also said he was going to cut taxes massively, and that will explode the deficit. Then what?
He said he was going to let oil and gas exploration run rampant over the nation and appointed Rick Perry, who couldn’t remember the name of the agency, to be Secretary of Energy so he could dismantle the department. Then what?
Once again we are staring into the vacant eyes of people who are fond of giving us ten-word answers but can’t come up with the next ten or the ten after that. All they seem interested in doing is tearing down anything with Obama’s name on it and standing victoriously on the pile of rubble they’ve created. But then what?
The objective seems to be to make the world and America forget that Barack Obama was ever the President of the United States. That the eight years between 2009 and 2017 were just a fevered dream of a bunch of liberals and multicultural PC police and anything accomplished was both temporary and invisible. The idea that a white man and his cronies were shut out of power for even one moment is totally unacceptable to them and like the moment in English history when the monarchy was abolished and Cromwell ruled the land, it was a just an aberration. It didn’t happen and any evidence of that alternate universe must be torn down.
Actually, they want to go further back than just the last eight years. They would love to tear down remnants of many previous administrations: Carter and the Energy Department, Nixon and the EPA, Johnson and Medicare, Franklin Roosevelt and Social Security, and even Theodore Roosevelt and his agenda against “malefactors of great wealth.”
Then what? That’s the question we should be asking ourselves because clearly Trump does not have the answers. We have to not only resist the demolition but strengthen what we believe in. We can’t curl up in a ball in the corner and wait for the next Barack Obama to come along or waste gallons of ink and hours of code debating “identity politics” (newsflash: all politics is “identity politics”). We stand in front of the wrecking ball or we fight them with every legal means possible. We use their weight against themselves. We pursue the truth relentlessly and stop accepting the status as quo. We elect progressives to the local school board and the county commission. We clean up the creek behind our house and make our streets safe for everyone. We engage our neighbors in finding the common goals of what we expect from each other, not what’s in it for me. Most importantly, we stop trying to exploit the nameless and abstract fears that breed paranoia and distrust that lead to the ten-word answers but no solution.
Maybe then we’ll be on the way to finding out what’s what.