As President-Elect Joe Biden builds his core leadership group with cabinet and sub-cabinet appointments, it is still unclear exactly what his top policy priorities will be, beyond removing as much of the Trump legacy as possible. After all, we saw very little of him during the campaign, particularly when it might involve probing questions from an engaged media outside his support base. Can anyone really pin down what he intends to do with the economy, tax policy (other than raise them), with the relationship with China, public education, in the Middle East, etc., etc.?
The one exception to this, however, is very clear–he is almost entirely focused on diversity. In fact, he has promised as he says “the single most diverse cabinet based on race, color, based on gender, that has ever existed in the United States of America”. And so far, based on key top level appointments, he is certainly following that script, and he is quick to lead his appointment announcements with comments about the identity of the announced appointee–“the first of this, the first of that”, etc., without much emphasis on their specific qualifications for the job. And many of them are clearly Obama administration alumni, right out of central casting. Maybe it will get better, but to date I’m not impressed with the overall quality from a competence standpoint, and frightened by some of them.
The other, even more damaging point about the emphasis almost exclusively on diversity, is that it divides and doesn’t unify the various identity sponsors and interest groups, as we have already witnessed in the public response to some of these appointments and complaints from many of the spokesmen for these interest groups. Biden could take some advice from his liberal friend the late Arthur Schlesinger in his book reviewed in this issue of the Pilgrim, wherein he laments the divisiveness of identity politics: “It is ironic that what the multiculturalists began as a joyous celebration of diversity ends as a grim crusade for conformity….if separatist tendencies go on unchecked the result can only be the fragmentation, resegregation, and tribalization of American life.”
In all of our pursuit of diversity, how about more focus on diversity of thought and much less on gender and skin color?