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Is Nepotism Bad for US Politics?

We have all heard the expression about hiring family members and friends. The overall sentiment is that it only leads to disaster, but is that always the case?

is nepotism bad us politics

Trump to Hire Son in Law for Senior White House Advisor

Nepotism is currently in the news due to President elect Donald Trump’s decision to hire his son to be a senior White House advisor. Before moving forward though, it’s important to understand what exactly this position entails. First, the responsibility includes within it many roles.

Over time, the Senior Advisor role has had responsibility for the following groups:

  • White House Office of Strategic Initiatives
  • Intergovernmental Affairs
  • Political Affairs
  • Public Liaison
  • Communications Read More…

The position is of paramount importance to both the sanctity of the office and therefore the safety of the American public. Because of the proximity of the position to the leader of the US and maybe even the world, it seems that qualifications over familiarity would be the proper and necessary avenue.  It remains to be seen if Kushner will be able to succeed in this role, though there are some positive signs that this may be the case.

Mr. Trump described Mr. Kushner as “a tremendous asset and trusted adviser throughout the campaign and transition” in a statement issued early Monday evening announcing an appointment that perhaps more than any other defines the way the incoming president will govern.

Mr. Kushner plans to sell some of his real estate holdings and other assets, his lawyer said. Some ethics experts have questioned whether the appointment will be legal under federal anti-nepotism laws designed to prevent family ties from influencing the functioning of the United States government. Read more…

Nepotism with Past Presidents?

It’s very important to note that this is not the first case of nepotism in Presidential cabinet selections.

did clinton pave way for kushner

On January 25, 1993, President Clinton established the President’s Task Force on National Health Care Reform. The President appointed his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, as the chairman of the Task Force. The Task Force directly advised the President, held public hearings, and met in private with cabinet staff to formulate a health care plan — Hillarycare. Read more…

Before 1967, there was a rather long history of presidential relatives serving in appointed and unofficial government positions. The most famous example was President John F. Kennedy’s nomination of his brother, Robert, to become Attorney General. Robert Kennedy was confirmed in a voice vote by the Senate in 1961 and he served until September 1964.

Other Presidents retained relatives at the White House in various roles, including James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, John Tyler, James Buchanan, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower. Kennedy also appointed his brother-in-law, Sargent Shriver, as the first head of the Peace Corps. Read more…

Is Nepotism Bad?

The short answer is that when done correctly, nepotism has a tenuous grip on being a good thing, but can go terribly bad when done incorrectly. This is especially true when leaders are replaced with people who have the proper experience, maturity, and nurturing.

Nepotism can have advantages and disadvantages. For example, hiring relatives is easy and can lead to greater trust (what we call “swift trust”) if the relations get along and share a common purpose. Where nepotism becomes problematic is when non-relative employees feel that there is unfair favoritism, and when relatives are hired over more competent non-relatives. Unfortunately, there has been very little research on nepotism in the workplace. Read more…

In Summary

It’s only natural that at times of great transition there exists a need to surround oneself with trustworthy and vetted people. Trump is no different. A position as important as Senior Presidential Advisor however, begs the question, is this the best choice?  Unfortunately, only time will answer this question, but the stakes truly could not be any higher. History has proven that when nepotism fails, the consequences can be devastating and debilitating.

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