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Nepotism must be rooted out of politics

CW / Kylie Cowden

Cassie Kuhn

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To acknowledge the significant role that connections and wealth play in American politics doesn’t require cynicism so much as a healthy dose of realism. If you look at who holds American political offices, it’s pretty clear that having the charisma and appearance of a politician is a baseline requirement for becoming one, with credentials being of only secondary importance. Who you know, your family’s reputation and how much money you have is vitally important in the political world just as it is in the business world and just about any other world. Like it or not, that’s the state of our modern society.

My purpose in saying this is not to discredit the many, many politicians whose achievements were earned through hard work and authenticity. It’s also not to make some dramatic claim that American politics today are more corrupt than they’ve ever been before; American politics have basically always been corrupt, and that is a trend that is overwhelmingly likely to continue, at least for the next four years. While political corruption is certainly a problem, especially when its primary perpetrator in America is the same man who promised to ‘drain the swamp’ prior to his election, the bigger problem is the passive acquiescence and nonchalance with which Americans in positions of power are perceiving such corruption. 

In a recent interview with Forbes, Donald Trump’s son Eric Trump explained that “nepotism is kind of a factor of life.” With regards to his shared control of the Trump Organization with his brother Donald Jr., he says, “We might be here because of nepotism, but we’re not still here because of nepotism.” This should be deeply alarming. The President of the United States prioritizes keeping his family in positions of power and prestige over delegating jobs to the people who can do them best, and I think we can all agree proper delegation of tasks is an important skill for the person who is supposed to be running our country. Some may argue that what Trump does with his privately owned company is not something the American people need to be concerned with, but the fact of the matter is that Trump’s behavior in the business world has and will translate into his behavior in the political world. At least I’d hope so, since his supporters can’t seem to stop raving about his extraordinary skills as a businessman and his ability to cinch deals.

Yet, another example of Trump’s blatant corruption is the jobs he has assigned daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner. These jobs, which Ivanka and Kushner did not earn and certainly do not deserve, arm them with power and influence in a country that they are not properly equipped to serve. Never in the history of our country has a single family so pervasively invaded the White House after a presidential election. Trump and his family have expressed no concern about the glaringly obvious conflicts of interest produced by placing your entire family in positions of power in the White House. Instead, they remorselessly defend their unethical actions. Eric Trump claimed Ivanka’s position in the White House is acceptable on the grounds that she is intelligent and talented. 

Donald Trump is creating a political administration run by people who are not best fit for the job simply because of their blood ties, and nobody is apologetic or regretful about it. This is wrong, and it should scare us. American politics have a long, tangled history full of corruption and a fair amount of moral depravity, but Trump’s casual and unapologetic placement of members of his family into positions of undeserved power in the American political system is unprecedented and should infuriate us as Americans. If we can’t trust that qualifications and political experience are of at least marginal importance when it comes to those in the positions of governmental power, there is no reason for us as Americans to have any faith that the government is going to produce positive or meaningful change in America in the next four years.

Cassie Kuhn is a freshman majoring in math and political science. Her column runs biweekly.

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Nepotism must be rooted out of politics