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Analysis of Donald Trump's choice of cabinet members

"Trump has been signalling reconciliation quite a lot, though not very consistently. For every warm Thanksgiving proclamation, there’s an attack on the media .

"I sometimes think he’s inconsistent to demonstrate that he (and his followers) have the power and privilege not to be consistent. Proclaiming unity on Thanskgiving is boilerplate; as Jan-Werner Muller pointed out in the London Review of Books, it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t think your opponents are legitimate or even part of 'the people.'"

"It's been argued that Trump deflects charges of racism by accusing others of racism, and by highlighting personal relationships with groups he’s accused of victimizing. That keeps coming back to me this week. His denunciation of the “alt-right” (effectively, white supremacists) makes him seem moderate by comparison, while still allowing him to say harsh, impolite things on immigration. His appointments of prominent women and non-white Republicans (Ben Carson) to his Cabinet may serve the same purpose, especially since none of the jobs they are getting is very powerful."

"Picking (Nikki)Haley and (Betsy)DeVos, like picking Reince Priebus, may also be an attempt to reach out to Republican elites who didn’t support him. Haley has some credibility as an opponent of racism; she called for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the South Carolina State House grounds after the Charleston shootings, and opposed Trump’s plan to block Muslim immigrants.

Dr Ben Margulies, Department of Politics and International Studies

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