I’m not a fan of Joe Biden’s, and he hasn’t shown himself to be really progressively oriented. However, I looked over the 45 people thus far nominated or selected to be in his administration, and I noted several positive things.
First, let’s not forget that Kamala Harris is the first female vice-president and first person of color to be elected as vice-president. Her selection is sort of a harbinger of the rest of the administration.
Second, 45 people have been named so far. 23 out of 45 were women. 7 of those were colored women. Plus there were also 4 black men. Given that blacks are 13.4% of the U.S. population, the percentage of blacks in the administration is much higher. Also, Trump only had 33% of his administrative appointees as women, while just now Biden is at 50%. The percentage of women in Presidential cabinets has climbed from 0% under Johnson and Nixon to 21% under Trump (as high as 34.8% under Obama). And with Buttigieg appointed as Secretary of Transportation, we have the first openly gay person appointed to the cabinet.
One thing that might be noted is that the only Senator presently in office to join the administration is Kamala Harris. I’m sure this is because appointing Democratic senators (such as Bernie Sanders, for example) would lower the Democratic vote in that house. Harris, being from California with a California governor, has been replaced by a Democrat already. But Vermont has a Republican governor, so appointing Bernie to the administration would hurt the count of Democrats in the Senate. According to the Constitution, “[No] Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.” So Bernie couldn’t be in both the Senate and the Cabinet.
Of course, this suggests that Biden might form a “bi-partisan” administration by finding a Republican Senator from a state with a Democratic governor and appoint that Senator to a cabinet position, while at the same time lowering the number of Republicans in the Senate. “There were seven states with a Republican incumbent and a Democratic governor: Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, and North Carolina.” How about Cory Gardner or Susan Collins for a cabinet position? They’d surely be replaced by Democrats in the Senate (assuming they’d accept Biden’s nomination). I’m not the only one who has thought of this strategy.
Despite all of the foregoing, there aren’t many progressives in the Biden administration. Buttigieg is interesting because of his sexual orientation, but he should probably not be counted as a progressive. “Progressive frustrations are mounting as President-elect Joe Biden nominates long-time allies and moderate supporters for Cabinet positions and agency jobs, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez warned an over-reliance on the “moneyed political establishment” by the new administration could backfire on Democrats.”
On the other hand, some commentators have seen Buttigieg and former Michigan governor Jennifer Granhold (appointee as Secretary of Energy) as important on issues of climate change and energy. If they present progressive policies, that would be good. But Biden really cannot afford to lose the progressives. If they abandon him for the mounting calls for another party, he won’t be re-elected. One can already imagine a 2024 election with splits in both the Democratic and Republican parties.