Trump rails against Wall Street yet brings bankers into the government. It is a cynical strategy, but one that could work for him.
It could be seen as a good sign, or as a symbol that different rules apply post-election. Or as a development that, given the team of election advisers, was already foreseeable. To fill the posts in his government, Donald Trump is drawing heavily on Wall Street, rich donors and military and security lobbyists – and partly also on a pool of staff from previous Republican administrations. It is presumably also advantageous if those people who are active in the U.S. government, at least as the target audience of government policies, have experience in their areas of competence.
But one thing it is certainly not is a fulfillment of Donald Trump's election promise to drain the "swamp" of the political and economic establishment between New York and Washington. If a candidate who cited Hillary Clinton's speeches at Goldman Sachs during the election campaign as proof of bias now appoints half a dozen current and former Goldman Sachs bankers as ministers and advisers, it will raise questions. The same applies when a candidate who vilified Clinton's handling of secret emails now considers employing Gen. David Petraeus as secretary of state. The same David Petraeus who had to leave his job as head of the CIA because he passed on secret information to his biographer, with whom he was also having an affair.
Actions vs. Symbols
That is striking. And it also gives Democrats a bit of space to reclaim their power to interpret what is good for the American middle class. But they shouldn't celebrate too soon – many voters are not expecting the candidate who they took "literally but not seriously" to keep all his promises. They know about Trump's casual approach to the truth but voted for him in spite of this, because at least he addressed their problems and concerns.
The future president, who proudly announced on Wednesday that he had limited the feared loss of 2,000 jobs at an air conditioning manufacturer in Indiana to 1,000, knows this. It is a doubly cynical game. Firstly, a company that is relocating half of its workforce to Mexico can now be celebrated as the savior of the "forgotten man." And secondly, it is a one-off measure; while it will help around a thousand people, is small in comparison to the 180,000 jobs the U.S. economy added in October alone.
As a symbol that the future president has not forgotten those who made it possible for him to move into the White House, this is significant – certainly more significant than any government appointments.