As Donald Trump trots out candidate after candidate for his administration for the next four years, we are left ooing and ahhing about what deplorable – and surprising – candidates he ultimately selects.
But here’s one element we are missing as we scrutinize his choices and his dismissals: Trump is likely choosing the “keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer” strategy in order to make it nearly impossible for any political climbers to oppose him in 2020.
Trump’s selection of Nikki Haley was the clearest example of this. Haley, a popular Republican, is just the type to possible run against Trump in 2020. But now that she will have a key spot in his administration, will she be as committed to run in four years as she might have been before? Can her political reputation stand up to the onslaught that four years of a Trump presidency will have on the entire party?
We are seeing this with other possible picks as well, including Trump’s recent meeting with former frenemy Mitt Romney. According to rumors, Romney is being considered for Secretary of State despite his unrelenting opposition to Trump during the election. No doubt Romney gained quite a bit of reputation boost from his fearless defiance of the Republican nominee, but if he takes a position in the Trump administration, all of that will disappear in an instant.
Even candidates on the other side of the aisle are in Trump’s sights as he met with progressive congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard earlier this week, raising eyebrows as to why the two would agree to a meeting at this time. Though no apparent offer was made to Gabbard, it would be beneficial to Trump to give progressives like Gabbard a spot on his cabinet.
Doing so would force a narrative that far-left voters have much more in common with Trump than they thought they did. In a ideologically purist organization like the far-left, association with a fascist xenophobe can be career-ending.
Trump knows that Bernie Sanders and his movement are a massive threat to his political dominance, after all the two men both ran on a populist platform. If he can de-legitimize the progressive party, he will effectively wipe out his competition in four years.
In the end, when Trump has stocked his cabinet with the good, bad, and the ugly, no one will be able to leave that administration without the forever lasting mark of having worked closely with Donald Trump.
For good or for bad, these officials will be marked forever.
And that’s just how Donald likes it.