Many of us are paying a lot of attention to important things about the Trump nominees: Do they believe in Climate Change? Support torture? Want to cozy up to Putin? Create a Muslim Registry? Know anything about the job they to which they are being appointed? Important things. That is why this analysis is so interesting. It was the headline that caught my eye “Trump’s Cabinet So Far Is More White and Male Than Any First Cabinet Since Reagan.” Written by Jasmine C. Lee the New York Times story is full of charts and pictures.
If Mr. Trump’s nominees are confirmed, women and nonwhites will hold five of 21 cabinet or cabinet-level positions. He has not yet named nominees for two additional positions.
Those five members will also be in some of the lowest-ranking positions. None of them are in the so-called inner cabinet, the four positions in place since George Washington’s presidency: the attorney general and the secretaries of state, Treasury and defense (formerly called the secretary of war).
Barack Obama had 14. Bill Clinton 12, and George W. Bush 9. Trump is doing a little better than Reagan who only had two: Jeanne Kirkpatrick at the United Nations and Samuel Pierce at HUD.
The first cabinets of George W. Bush and Mr. Obama were both noted for their diversity. In Mr. Bush’s initial administration, 45 percent of the cabinet and cabinet-level officials were women or nonwhite men. In Mr. Obama’s first cabinet, that figure was 64 percent.
What does it mean that the clock is being turned back on diversity? I think that diversity and inclusion are bad words to the President-elect. They certainly are to his supporters. But I think a great deal is lost when there aren’t persons from different backgrounds, genders, and races at the table. If everyone is a super-rich white man, who represents the rest of us? And who represents the Trump voter?
Photograph of Reagan Cabinet from the Reagan Library
Photograph of the Obama Cabinet from the White House