Editor’s Note: This post was written by Maria Zumbo.
Most citizens of the U.S. were concerned about the 2016 election and President Trump’s move into the Oval Office. Of course, Trump’s seemingly authoritarian tendencies raise concern. For his presidency, I see both challenges and opportunities awaiting him. I believe that his lack of political knowledge, as well as his lack of experience and low approval ratings, will hinder his rise. It will either make him or break him as he learns to balance the presidential weight on his shoulders.
Political experience and a working knowledge of political science are essential for any president and their administration. President Trump has revealed over and over again his lack of knowledge about our political system. When Army veteran and current Marquette University student asked a simple question, “What are the top three functions of the United States government?” Trump was stumped. He couldn’t seem to think of what other key duties were within the federal government’s purview. He seemed to not understand that when our government was established, it had only three cabinet departments, Defense, State and Treasury, because these are the feds’ main jobs: conducting war, promoting peace and encouraging prosperity. Trump also named health care and education, but they are generally understood, by an overwhelming majority of conservatives, to be activities that fall within the states’ police powers. Trump has been dismissive of separation of powers, civil liberties and civil rights. The only time he has really been pressed on constitutional issues was when he had wrongly assumed that a president could order the military to torture prisoners of war. I see Trump’s ignorance of our system as both shocking and distressing.
Surrounding himself with capable advisers is the best opportunity for President Trump, especially being new to the political field. Established in Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution, the cabinet’s role is to advise the president on any subject he may require relating to the duties of each member’s respective office. It is interesting to notice the diversity–or lack of–in the cabinet members. More than 170 people interviewed for a position in the Trump administration prior to the election and more than 200 people received a “full vetting and full review” since the election, according to Vice President Mike Pence. While it’s been a custom for the next president to pick an appointee from the opposite party as a way to extend an olive branch, none of Trump’s cabinet nominees are Democrats. Collected from WhiteHouse.gov, President Trump’s cabinet includes one African-American man and three women, one of which is Asian-American and another is Indian-American. There is diversity when it comes to their background and race, but a lack of diversity in their political ideology.
To take on the role as President of the United States is no easy task. Presidents have gone gray from the stress of leading a nation in such controversial times. President Trump has a plethora of obstacles in his path, including his lack of political knowledge and experience, along with low approval ratings. But if he continues to fill his administration staff and cabinet with competent personnel and use his business talents wisely he would not fall beneath President James Buchanan as the “worst president ever”.