Boston University

The Politicization of the Cabinet and Agencies: How Trump’s Appointments Bypass Democracy by Michael Caulfield

During Trump’s presidency, the appointments that he has made have been considered suspect at best.  As opposed to the appointment of those who have the best interest of the country at heart, they have the interest of the president in mind.  Many of the appointments made to the Cabinet and other government agencies under the executive branch have been met with protest.  The appointments of Devos as Secretary of Education and Pruitt as the head of the EPA were both met with comments regarding them as not being knowledgeable in their respective fields, as well as promoting their interests, mainly that of deregulation.  This is a clear showing of how Trump is surrounding himself with those who agree with his agenda and this action is indicative of some democratic backsliding, as these appointments do not accurately reflect the will of the people.

With the appointment of Scott Pruitt as the head of the EPA, this is a clear appointment of someone who does not have the ideals and the good of the people of the country at heart.  He has strongly advocated for less regulation concerning the environment, as well as originally denying climate change to then saying that it is a good thing.  The scientific community has made it incredibly clear that global warming is a major problem, and the fact that the head of an executive agency believes it to be a good thing is incredibly detrimental to the overall health of the country.  Because of this, it is clear to see how he is not a clear representative of the people, ergo his appointment could be considered anti-democratic.  However, he has recently resigned, but his deputy shares the same views.  From this, it is clear to see how Trump has been surrounding himself with those that are not with the national interest, but instead with his own.  In this way, the national interest is being bypassed through these people being put into a non-elected position of power.  Historically, this consolidation of power has been a part of democratic backsliding.



  1. Dillan Passmore

    February 28, 2019 at 12:21 am

    I’m curious: is your assumption the notion of a presidential cabinet is undemocratic? Or the abuse of power by members of Trump’s cabinet is undemocratic?
    First, the concept of a presidential cabinet is established in the constitution in Article 2, Section 2, “[The president] may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices…”. These officers must then be confirmed by the Senate. Is this process undemocratic? Well, you could argue that it is, but it depends on how you define democracy. But I would
    Second, how do we determine whether or not bureaucrats have “the ideals and the good of the people of the country at heart”? What if people don’t believe in climate change and they want deregulation? It sounds like the underlying basis of your claim is that there is wide-sense of what is the good of the people, and that “enlightened statesmen” are supposed to know what that broad sense of good. This is a bold assumption by me, but it sounds like you’re advocating more for a form of elitism.
    Isn’t Trump’s strategy in surrounding himself with those of similar thought him trying to fulfill campaign promises? Isn’t that traditional of democratic leaders?
    I think you have some good thoughts here that can really be developed, but overall I think the arguments that you’re making are disconnected.

  2. Daniel Caissie

    March 20, 2019 at 11:24 pm

    I like the topic you chose to write about. There is definitely speculation as to why these individuals were appointed based on their track records, but there has always been a sense of this behind the scenes agendas relating to presidential appointments. In my opinion I agree with you and the fact that these appointees may not be qualified for the positions and may have secret motive. Though the media does a great job of blowing the story out of the water and intensifying the true meaning behind President Trump’s decision. I also agree with the idea that a vast majority of the U.S. is unhappy with the president’s choices and that may be the largest issue regarding U.S. Democracy and this controversy.

Leave a Reply