WASHINGTON D.C. – The list isn’t complete, but it doesn’t take long to notice something heartening about President-elect Hillary Clinton’s cabinet choices so far: they know their fields and have decades of passionate advocacy dedicated to them. It’s a trait many consider core to the incoming president herself, and Clinton watchers note that putting smart people with a deep understanding of the policy issues into major roles is exactly what they expected when she secured victory over Republican Donald J. Trump on November 8.
While the selection of Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards for Health and Human Services is certain to antagonize some Senate Republicans, few can argue that she’s not qualified for the post. When Illinois’s newly-minted Senator-elect Tammy Duckworth agreed to tackle the longstanding issues at the VA, many took it as a sign that GOP efforts to privatize VA care will continue to be challenged, and breathed a sigh of relief. Even critics heralded the choice of well-known astrophysicist and science personality Neil deGrasse Tyson to head the Department of Energy.
Another commonality among these leaders in their fields? While none have the hardscrabble backstory that many Americans claim they want to see in a leader, neither are any of them outrageously wealthy or scions of dynastic fortunes. Richards and Tyson attended public schools as children, and Duckworth’s childhood included a period where her father was out of work and the family relied on public assistance to get by.
While a number of appointments remain to be made, these early choices by the President-elect suggest an ongoing desire for informed, rational governance in the mold of her predecessor, Barack Obama.