It may be worse than anyone anticipated. Donald Trump, who is about to become the president of the United States of America, is quite clearly surrounding himself with cabinet members who have spoken against or stood in direct opposition to the work of the very departments they will be asked to control.
Each day since the election, some fresh outrage has emerged: an anti-science zealot to run the Environmental Protection Agency, a delusional retired surgeon to run Housing and Urban Development, a multimillionaire who has made an oil fortune ignoring State Department policy for secretary of state. The Trump transition team has sent the Department of Energy a questionnaire targeting those who worked on climate research. And there is more.
He has followed the refusal to release his tax returns by failing to agree to divest himself of his business holdings, which will present a constitutional challenge early in his term. An announcement in that regard has been delayed until January, well after the Electoral College is to vote. Because it benefited him, Russia’s meddling in the election has gone unchallenged by the president-elect. The implications are massive. The Russian attack may prove as consequential in undermining Americans’ confidence in the electoral system as Sept. 11, 2001, shook confidence in national security. Then, as now, the goal of the attack was to spread doubt and confusion. Only now, this country faces a far more sophisticated adversary. Many current and former Washington officials say Valdimir Putin’s aim is to create chaos in the West and loosen its alliances so that Russia can retake some of its Soviet Union glory. Mr. Trump has repeatedly played into his hands.
There is little likelihood that those of us on the East End can do much to influence Mr. Trump directly. What we can do, however, is support those in Congress, the media, and the organizations that are speaking out. That The New York Times and Washington Post had dramatic increases in paid circulation in the weeks following Mr. Trump’s win was an encouraging sign. A nationwide effort is underway to convince the Electoral College to vote against him, tens of thousands are poised to march in Washington the day after the inauguration, while smaller marches will take place around the country. This demonstrates that Americans are willing to fight an administration that so wildly goes against our common values. Mr. Trump must be stopped, but it will take sustained effort on all fronts.