My June 21, 2018, page 3 column had a secondary article with the headline, “A Couple Modest Proposals for Saving America.” One of those proposals was that the Democratic Party follow Britain’s example and create a “shadow cabinet,” consisting of a Democratic counterpart to each cabinet secretary.
Wikipedia describes the concept as follows:
“The Shadow Cabinet is a feature of the Westminster system of government. It consists of a senior group of opposition spokespeople who, under the leadership of the Leader of the Opposition, form an alternative cabinet to that of the government, and whose members shadow or mirror the positions of each individual member of the Cabinet. It is the Shadow Cabinet's responsibility to scrutinize the policies and actions of the government, as well to offer an alternative program.”
That suggestion, obviously, was not implemented, and I harbor no expectations this time either, but it would sure be useful and effective if it were.
If, as I hope, Trump is defeated in November, the new president, Joe Biden, will have a lot of repairing to do in each and every department.
Take, for example, the EPA. One of Trump’s most childish and odd orders was that the phrase “climate change” be banned and that it be removed from the EPA website and from any documents issued by that agency. Doubtless there were numerous other orders implemented within the EPA that were not publicized but probably need to be reversed.
The climate change order is an example of something that was reported. We don’t even know much of what was done in each of the other agencies but was not reported.
Behind the scenes, it’s important that Biden’s future department and agency appointees hit the ground running, and that means starting now with their research. Previous secretaries or under secretaries under Obama would be the best candidates for these shadow cabinet positions, because they know the agencies and probably have contact info for the career officials who may or may not still be at work and can identify the changes that have been implemented since Trump took office.
There are Executive Orders signed by President Trump every day that are of public record but don’t make the news. Each Biden “appointee” could start the process now of studying all the executive orders signed by Trump relating to their agency so they can determine whether those EOs are beneficial or detrimental in their impact on the agency and on public policy.
Naming such a Shadow Cabinet has a benefit beyond allowing Biden and his team to “hit the ground running” next January. It will allow Biden and his appointees to be specific and informative now — during the presidential campaign — about the changes Trump has made to the government that the public — the voters — need to know, whether they love those changes and want Trump re-elected or think they should be undone by a Biden administration.
By calling these appointees his “shadow cabinet” instead of his actual nominees for each position, Biden would avoid being accused of presuming his election. A shadow cabinet is a concept that can be easily explained to the public, especially by referencing the British example. The opposition party should always have a shadow cabinet, and I welcome the Republican Party adopting the concept when/if they lose the Presidential election.
A shadow government, as I wrote in June 2018, is simply a “good government” idea. We shouldn’t expect Sen. Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to be the sole persons responding to Trump’s latest tweet or action. It would be so much better to have a “shadow” secretary of each department or agency speak with the authority of having credible knowledge of the topic being addressed.
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