Donald Trump has nominated a full Cabinet that, for the first time since Ronald Reagan’s second term, includes not a single Latino or Latina among its members. The Latino community, which is the largest racial minority group in the nation, comprising more than one in six of all Americans, is the only sizeable minority group left out of the new administration’s Cabinet.
Moreover, Sean Spicer, Trump’s press secretary has trotted out the hoariest of excuses for this remarkable exclusion – that Trump was seeking candidates not based on race, but on who is the “best and brightest.” The implicit suggestion that no Latinos are among the nation’s best and brightest candidates for the Cabinet is insulting to the entire Latino community, and utterly ludicrous besides. It would be even more insulting were it not for Spicer’s growing reputation for gratuitous and outlandish fabrications about many matters, including those as seemingly unimportant as the anemic crowd size at the inauguration.
Of course, the assertion that the Cabinet put forward by Trump in fact represents the “best and brightest” is laughable. From an Education Secretary-designate who refuses to educate herself about education issues to a Labor Secretary-designate who seems to hate his own workers; from epitomes of Wall Street excess to ex-military who lack the discipline to control their own mouths, this may be the least qualified Cabinet assembled in modern times. Therefore, the Latino community might take a certain perverse pride in not having any part of this clown car of a Cabinet.
However, what is more troubling about Latino exclusion from the nominated Cabinet is the strong implication that Trump’s definition of “making America great again” begins with reverting to a time when Latinos were excluded from critical federal government positions.
Of course, the process of seating the first Trump Cabinet is not yet over. The Senate has yet to weigh in on most of the nominated Cabinet members through the confirmation process. The Senate has a constitutional duty to provide advice and consent with respect to the Cabinet. In reviewing the Cabinet as a whole, the Senate now has its opportunity to opine on the exclusion of the nation’s largest racial/ethnic minority community — to grant or withhold consent from such an exclusionary Cabinet. Beyond the Senate’s collective voice, each and every sitting senator has the individual opportunity to indicate tacit acceptance or opposition to the notion that Latinos are not among the nation’s “best and brightest” and that they should therefore be excluded from the Cabinet. Each senator thus consents — or rejects and advises against — a Cabinet that excludes Latinos.
In short, any senator who votes to confirm every Cabinet nominee will be delivering an endorsement of Latino exclusion – an insult and injury to the nation’s largest and fast-growing minority community. And each senator who delivers such an endorsement of the exclusionary Cabinet should know that the Latino community and its allies will take notice and will cast their votes in 2018 and beyond, considering such an endorsement of exclusion.