“The accumulation of all power, legislative, executive, and judiciary in the same hands…may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” – James Madison, Federalist 46
“When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.” – Richard Nixon
In the first 14 days of his Presidency, The Donald has become one of the most controversial Presidents to assume power since Richard Nixon. Sure, he’s not made waves at the same scale as Watergate, he’s (yet) to be impeached, but he certainly has been divisive thanks to his twitter diplomacy, and his out of hand dismissiveness of criticism as ‘fake news’, prompting people across the world to take to the streets and protest against his appointment.
Two things that have made the headlines over the last two weeks have been President Trump’s lack of diversity in his cabinet, and the number of executive orders that have been flying out of his office (especially if you’ve been following the memes online – @TrumpDraws for those of you that have missed out).
“The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.”–U.S. Constitution, Art. II, § 1, cl. 1
Famously, Trump hasn’t been a fan of executive orders. Back in 2012 he took to twitter to bemoan what he believed was executive overreach being displayed by President Obama, in his use of ‘the pen and the phone’ rather than deferring to Congress.
However, The Donald has dealt out an impressive 8 Executive Orders, and 12 Presidential Memoranda since taking office. That puts him on a run-rate of 1,040 this year, if he keeps up the pace. He has only signed one more bill than Obama since he assumed power, which puts him firmly in first place when it comes to signing orders to get his way.
The content of the Executive Orders has been the more worrying aspect of the President’s action for most observers. While Obama enacted legislation such as the Freedom of Information Act, or reviewed interrogation techniques and inmates at Guantanamo, Trump has been more focussed on Pipeline building, and preventing “foreign terrorist entry”, an order that has been branded a ‘Muslim ban’.
Enough has been said about this elsewhere, but it is important to point out that not everything can be explained with numbers. Including this narrative, even if there had been fewer executive orders made by Trump than his predecessors. This would have provided a worrying picture for many readers. However, the headlines haven’t been about the numbers, but the content.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. – Martin Luther King Jnr
Recently, on Theresa May’s visit to the US, a comparison was drawn between the current President and Prime Minister and Reagan and Thatcher. It seems that Ronald and Donald may have more in common with each other than just having a female equivalent in Downing Street (and having names that sound like the beginning of a nursery rhyme). Trump also has the least diverse Cabinet since Reagan.
The now famous photo of him signing the revocation of the Mexico City act, surrounded by men, is an accurate representation of his cabinet as a whole. Taking only his Cabinet members, and not ‘Cabinet level’ members, the Cabinet is 88% white, and 88% male, bucking the downward trend in initial cabinet appointments seen over the past decades. In addition, incredibly, his is the first cabinet since George H. W. Bush in 1989 to not include any Hispanic members.
Not only that, but he also has the richest cabinet created since Reagan, and the oldest average age since George W. Bush (prior to this the oldest cabinet was that of Franklin Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower at 56.2 and 56.3 years respectively). With an average age of 63.6 and a total net worth of $8.1bn, his cabinet are circa $7.7 billion richer than Obama’s was in 2009. I did attempt to reach further back beyond Reagan for detail of the wealth of cabinets, but was unable to find enough information.
Sometimes the numbers say it all, and sometimes like here, they only tell a tiny party of the story. A story that for many is becoming a terrifying reality. I’ve tried to be objective in this article. Pointing out the facts. However, there are two indisputable things about Trump and his cabinet. Unless the challenge to his immigration ban succeeds he will continue to be less accountable than ever before, and more worrying for the leader of the free world in the 21st century, less diverse than the 1980s. Not exactly the ‘man of the people’ he purports to be, and potentially a giant leap backward for feminism in the U.S.
Trump and Obama’s Executive Orders and Presidential Memoranda for their first 14 days
|January 21, 2009||Executive Order 13489—Presidential Records|
|January 21, 2009||Executive Order 13490—Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Personnel|
|January 22, 2009||Executive Order 13491—Ensuring Lawful Interrogations|
|January 22, 2009||Executive Order 13492—Review and Disposition of Individuals Detained at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base and Closure of Detention Facilities|
|January 22, 2009||Executive Order 13493—Review of Detention Policy Options|
|January 30, 2009||Executive Order 13494—Economy in Government Contracting|
|January 30, 2009||Executive Order 13495—Nondisplacement of Qualified Workers Under Service Contracts|
|January 30, 2009||Executive Order 13496—Notification of Employee Rights Under Federal Labor Laws|
|January 30, 2009||Executive Order 13497—Revocation of Certain Executive Orders Concerning Regulatory Planning and Review|
|January 21, 2009||Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government|
|January 21, 2009||Memorandum on the Freedom of Information Act|
|January 21, 2009||Memorandum on Pay Freeze|
|January 22, 2009||Memorandum on Review of the Detention of Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri|
|January 23, 2009||Memorandum on Mexico City Policy and Assistance for Voluntary Population Planning|
|January 26, 2009||Memorandum on the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007|
|January 26, 2009||Memorandum on the State of California Request for Waiver Under 42 U.S.C. 7543(b), the Clean Air Act|
|January 30, 2009||Memorandum on the White House Task Force on Middle-Class Working Families|
|January 30, 2009||Memorandum on Regulatory Review|
|January 20, 2017||Executive Order 13765 – Minimizing The Economic Burden Of The Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act Pending Repeal|
|January 24, 2017||Executive Order 13766 – Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals For High Priority Infrastructure Projects|
|January 25, 2017||Executive Order 13767 – Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements|
|January 25, 2017||Executive Order 13768 – Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States|
|January 27, 2017||Executive Order – Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States|
|January 28, 2017||Executive Order – Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Appointees|
|January 30, 2017||Executive Order – Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs|
|February 3, 2017||Executive Order – Core Principles for Regulating the United States Financial System|
|January 23, 2017||Memorandum on Hiring Freeze|
|January 23, 2017||Memorandum on the Mexico City Policy|
|January 23, 2017||Memorandum on Withdrawal of the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations and Agreement|
|January 24, 2017||Memorandum on Streamlining Permitting and Reducing Regulatory Burdens for Domestic Manufacturing|
|January 24, 2017||Memorandum on Construction of American Pipelines|
|January 24, 2017||Memorandum on Construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline|
|January 24, 2017||Memorandum on Construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline|
|January 27, 2017||Memorandum on Rebuilding the U.S. Armed Forces|
|January 28, 2017||Memorandum on the Organization of the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council|
|January 28, 2017||Memorandum on the Plan to Defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria|
|February 3, 2017||Memorandum on Fiduciary Duty Rule|