Combatting Resistance to Biden's Diverse Cabinet

Raising the Standard for Criticizing Diverse Nominees

Sam Chavez
Sam Chavez

Table of Contents

This week, more of Bidenโ€™s cabinet nominees are in the hot seat on Capitol Hill for their Senate confirmation hearings. And an odd theme is emerging. The opposition is toward highly qualified, diverse, female nominees.

Republicans are ginning up their outrage machine for some of the domestic policy candidates after four years of incompetence from the Trump cabinet. But itโ€™s notable that moderate Democrat, Joe Manchin (D-WV), has expressed opposition and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) has been suspiciously quiet thus far. The nominees in question are mostly women and all are people of color.

  • Neera Tanden for Office of Budget and Management
  • Deb Halland for Interior Secretary
  • Xavier Becerra for Department of Health and Human Services

If all cabinet posts are confirmed, Bidenโ€™s cabinet will be the most diverse cabinet in American history. 45% are women and 55% of the cabinet is non-white. But the kicker is that theyโ€™re incredibly experienced. 95% of the cabinet has past government experience.

Biden pledges historic cabinet diversity

The experience piece is what should be important when confirming nominees. Every President has the right to choose their own cabinet whether you agree with their picks or not. Trump had this same luxury for the past four years despite concerns about Rex Tillersonโ€™s experience in foreign policy and suspicious ties to Russian oil, Jeff Sessionsโ€™ history of racism, or Rick Grenell, an actual Twitter troll. (btw, Joe Manchin voted for every one of these nominees!)

But experience and diversity are not at the forefront of the discussion and media coverage. Instead, the media is delightfully engaging in a bad faith attack over Nera Tandenโ€™s past tweets about Republicans. And Deb Haaland is being criticized for...checks notesโ€ฆ.believing in climate change.

In 2021, it is an astounding thing to watch Republicans be so brazen against the confirmation of a female and the first Native American cabinet member. Their excuses are merely opportunities to disguise the systemic racism and misogyny behind the higher standards that women and people of color have to adhere to in order to advance in society.

Paying the Price

With Democrats controlling two branches of government, there should be a much broader communications effort to call out the double standard that these women have had to endure.

A systemic shift in how the media covers diverse public figures is desperately needed. There should be a higher standard of criticizing diverse talent versus the other way around. Diverse talent has far more benefits like a variety of perspectives, more creativity, and higher productivity. Couple the benefits with a qualified candidate, and there should be no reason not to confirm them.

There should be a higher price to pay for opposing historic nominees.

Democrats have the power to form a unified bond to raise systemic issues into the public consciousness. Organize key talking points that reiterate the historic nature of these nominees that ratchets up the pressure to make it harder to vote against. Send the talking points to all Senators and House members that support these nominations. Have representatives go on cable news, podcasts, and write op-eds to spread the message around. Leverage social, both paid and organic, to spread positive coverage and encourage grassroots to support as well. Saturate the coverage so that news sites have to pick up this angle of the story.

Joe Biden has more tools than heโ€™s currently using to make sure his diverse cabinet is approved. He just has to open his toolbox.

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Sam Chavez

Sam is a writer, strategist, and curious human. She founded the roots of change agency in 2020. Sam is a queer, white, LatinX activist whoโ€™s passionate about a livable planet & equitable societies.


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