As Donald Trump unveils his cabinet of deplorables, it’s getting hard to imagine how Democrats are going to “pick their battles”—the warning that’s become a cliché of Trump transition coverage (just Google it). The Wall Street Journal reported that even incoming Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer says, “Democrats will pick their battles,” as he singled out Trump’s selection for attorney general, Senator Jeff Sessions, as someone who would be subject to tough Democratic scrutiny at confirmation hearings.
And he should be; Sessions was rejected for a federal judgeship 30 years ago for his blinkered racial views and his persecution of black voting-rights advocates in Alabama while he was a federal prosecutor. But Democrats should be fighting virtually all of Trump’s picks. The president-elect is presenting Democrats with a political opportunity even before he takes the oath of office. The so-called champion of the working class is assembling a gilded cabinet. Not only will it be the richest, ever; it features plutocrats who’ve presided over the hollowing out of the working class Trump pretended to care about. Party leaders should be shouting about this from every imaginable platform.
- The Treasury secretary appointed after a campaign spent demonizing Wall Street and “hedge-fund guys” is a former Goldman Sachs banker and hedge-fund guy, Steve Mnuchin, whose bank foreclosed on 37,000 homeowners after the housing crash.
- Trump’s reported choice for labor secretary is the minimum wage–opposing, job-killing fast-food mogul Andrew Pudzer, who talks fondly about the day robots will replace workers at his restaurants. Pudzer has been a leader of the corporate fight against the Fight for $15, and he was a passionate supporter of the immigration-reform bill that failed in 2013—and he’ll be in charge of enforcing labor laws.
- Then there’s the billionaire nominee for Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, who owned the deadly Sago Mine in West Virginia when 12 workers were killed in a 2006 explosion. Three years later, he closed the mine. Trump, you’ll recall, has promised to “bring back coal” and “bring back miners.” How will coal country feel about Secretary Ross?
- Meanwhile, Trump’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, is a climate-change denier who has sued the EPA as Oklahoma attorney general.
- His Health and Human Services nominee, Representative Tom Price, opposes the Affordable Care Act and wants to privatize Medicare. Price once claimed it was impossible that any woman would be unable to pay for her own birth control. “Bring me one woman who has been left behind,” he told the Conservative Political Action Conference. “Bring me one. There’s not one.”
- Then there’s Housing and Urban Development nominee Ben Carson, who has zero experience in housing or urban development and appears to oppose Fair Housing laws.
- Betsy DeVos, the pick for education secretary, is yet another billionaire. She sent her children to private schools and has crusaded to privatize public education.
I could go on, but I’ll stop there. (There’s also his troika of retired generals—Mike Flynn as national security adviser, James Mattis as secretary of defense, and Jim Kelly as homeland security director—who raise separate questions about military influence in the cabinet.)