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Shirola: Constant changing of Trump’s senior officials is worrying

Wesley Shirola, Columnist

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I can’t recall any recent presidential administration that saw as many changes to its cabinet and senior staff during its first year as President Donald Trump’s did. In fact, during this past month, five senior officials within the Trump administration announced their intent to depart — whether voluntarily or after being fired via tweet.

On March 6, Gary Cohn, Trump’s chief economic adviser, announced his resignation amid ongoing friction in the White House surrounding Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. On March 12, John McEntee, Trump’s personal aide, was escorted out of the White House after reported issues with his background clearance. One day later, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson learned via Twitter, of all places, that he had been fired and was being replaced by CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Two more top officials would be ousted within about two weeks: H.R. McMaster, national security adviser, and David Shulkin, secretary of veterans affairs.

So many administrative changes have occurred that the Trump administration has become a “revolving door” of sorts for officials to come and go on a pretty consistent basis. This should worry Americans for two reasons: First, it signals a lack of stability within the White House; secondly, it removes several top officials who acted as checks on Trump’s spontaneous decision-making and leadership style. One shouldn’t have to be a Democrat to acknowledge this; Republicans should be just as concerned about the current state of the White House.

This lack of stability is most certainly unprecedented and a major departure from previous administrations, both Republican and Democratic alike. Take the position of secretary of state for instance, arguably one of the most important and prestigious posts in the cabinet. President Barack Obama had just two secretaries of state, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, respectively, during his eight years in office, one for each of his two terms. Before him, President George W. Bush also had two secretaries of state — Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell — again one for each of his terms. Finally, before Bush, President Bill Clinton had two secretaries of state, notably the esteemed Madeleine Albright, who was the first woman appointed to the position, and Warren Christopher, once again one for each of his two terms in office. Meanwhile, Tillerson, Trump’s first secretary of state, served a mere 406 days in office.

I’m not claiming that Trump has been an ineffective president. Indeed, he has made several notable achievements in the eyes of his administration and the Republican Party — appointing a conservative justice to the Supreme Court, passing major tax legislation and repealing the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act, to name a few. But his seemingly impulsive, uninhibited and incautious leadership style should be concerning for all Americans. I don’t think we have reason to fear anything as drastic as nuclear war with North Korea, as some on the left have claimed to be inevitable, but I think it’s valid to be worried about the political stability and global standing of our nation.

Trump has been in office for over a year now, but many of us are still waiting for him to realize that he’s not a businessman anymore and that now, as president, he cannot fire his employees on a whim without risking our nation’s political stability. It’s time for him to show to both the American people and the rest of the world that he is indeed a capable leader of the free world. I, for one, will still remain optimistic, and I suggest that you do too. No matter what, America will stand strong, as it always has.

Wesley Shirola is a Weinberg freshman. He can be contacted at wesleyshirola2021@u.northwestern.edu. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to opinion@dailynorthwestern.com. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.

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