One of the most carefully guarded prerogatives of every incoming presidential administration is the selection of executive branch leaders, from Cabinet-level positions through agency heads and even further below in the hierarchical rungs of the bureaucracy. These are all senior executive positions, and there are over 4,000 of them.
In the context of folks able to influence or implement immigration policies, they would range from the domestic policy advisor, to the attorney general, to the secretary of Homeland Security, as well as the various agency heads in charge of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and even the assistant attorney general in charge of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, to name just a few.
Collectively, the whole host of such positions are conveniently bundled into an Office of Personnel Management document affectionately known to government insiders as "the plum book".
After most elections, there is a veritable scrum among the well-connected and donor classes to get themselves lined up for positions delineated in the plum book; the figurative elbow jostling, eye gouging, pushing, and shoving among these elites can be hard-core, even while it is nearly invisible to the public eye. It's not pretty but it's the way things have been done since forever.
Leave it to Donald Trump to break the mold. At least some readers may be aware that the Trump transition team has actually issued on its website a public call to persons interested in serving in the president-elect's administration, to submit a resume online for consideration. (See here.)
At first finding out about this part of me was terrified. Every wackadoo and wingnut in the country — and no small number of sycophants, including people who wanted nothing to do with Trump or his candidacy while the election was still in doubt — can avail themselves of this opportunity. What's more, the vetting process will be made more difficult by the sheer number of people who think "What the hell?" and throw their name into the hat even if their qualifications are rice paper thin.
The other part of me, the give-this-a-second-thought part, is filled with admiration. Why not open it up beyond the usual elitist suspects? Trump owes them nothing. For now, I'm taking it on faith that the aides and advisers who are serving in the transition team will have their means of sorting through to keep the trustworthy and competent while eliminating the snakes and bumblers. After all, they pulled off one of the most significant upsets in American political history. Why not give them the benefit of the doubt that they can handle this, too?
We have become so accustomed to the veiled back-room nature of politics generally in recent decades, culminating in the particularly deliberate opaqueness of the Obama White House, that seeing something of this sort is like regaining consciousness and breathing a huge lungful of fresh air after coming out of a coma.
In short, Donald Trump has chosen to err, if error it is, on the side of inclusiveness. What's not to like about that?
Oh, and for those who may be wondering whether my enthusiasm is ginned up by a plan to feather my own nest by submitting a resume? It's not. I haven't and I won't be. I like, and see value in, what I do now.