There’s a Good Reason Democrats Aren’t Opposing Every Trump Nominee Unanimously

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Why aren’t Democrats voting against President Trump’s cabinet nominees en masse? Is it because they’re just a bunch soft-headed Beltway lifers who don’t understand that the base is pissed and wants them to fight fight fight?

Nope. I’m sure they all get that. But there are two reasons not to do this. The first is simple: the tradition that presidents should be able to choose their own cabinet officers really is important. It’s important on its own merits, and it’s also important politically. We simply can’t get to the point where opposition parties routinely vote against every appointee for everything. That would be disastrous anytime different parties control the Senate and the White House.

But maybe this is still too wishy-washy for you. So here’s another reason: if Democrats vote against everyone sight unseen, then Republicans will vote for everyone sight unseen. However, if Democrats demonstrate that they’re considering each candidate on the merits, they have at least a fighting chance of defeating one or two of Trump’s nominees. Betsy DeVos, for example, has shown that she’s flatly ignorant of an astounding amount of basic education policy. It might be possible to persuade two or three Republicans to oppose her on these grounds—but only if the entire confirmation process isn’t a pure partisan battle.

So that’s that. There’s a principled reason for not opposing everyone unanimously, but there’s also a pragmatic reason. It won’t make a huge difference, but it might keep one or two of Trump’s worst qualified nominees out of the cabinet.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend