Recommendations for Obama's cabinet (guest blog)
Dear President-elect Obama,
Please think big when it comes time to choose your cabinet. You campaigned on change, and that is what your constituents are expecting. This list of recommendations is designed to reflect racial and gender diversity, recognize those who have served in the name of change, and those who clearly wish to have a say in policy making.
Secretary of State Barbara Lee: cast the sole vote against a resolution authorizing Bush to use military force against those associated with the Sept 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. "There must be some of us who say, 'Let's step back for a moment and think through the implications of our actions today -- let us more fully understand the consequences.'"
Secretary of the Treasury Paul Krugman: won 2008 Nobel Prize for Economics. Proposes a "new New Deal".
Secretary of Defense Dennis Kuchinich: proposed the creation of a cabinet level Department of Peace in 2001 and 2003. The two-time candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination has also favored cutting the Pentagon budget by 15%.
Attorney General Cynthia McKinney: 2008 Green Party Presidential nominee and former congresswoman, ran on, among other things, an overhaul of the criminal justice system, including abolishing the death penalty and for-profit prisons.
Secretary of Commerce Ralph Nader: famous consumer advocate and many-time presidential nominee.
Secretary of Labor John Edwards: ran for the presidency in 2008 on a platform to eliminate poverty in 30 years. Side note: yes, Edwards has admitted to having an extramarital affair, but that should not disqualify him. Extra marital affairs are legal grounds for divorce, but are not illegal. Also, many other men in politics including JFK have been given a free pass for doing the same or worse. This does not mean, Mr. Obama, that I think it would be fine to sleep around behind your wife's back.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Howard Dean: medical doctor and former governor of Vermont, where he expanded a program of universal health care for children and pregnant women.
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Hillary Clinton: deserves a slot in the cabinet (far away from foreign policy), this one will do.
Secretary of Transportation Sheila Jackson-Lee: as congresswoman, has worked on transportation, infrastructure, and energy grid issues.
Secretary of Energy Al Gore: shared the Nobel Peace prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Spearheaded a new environmental movement with Oscar winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Cindy Sheehan : lost her son Casey in the 2nd Iraq War, and has since been vocally critical of the Bush Administration's treatment of returning soldiers. Ran (and lost) against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her congressional seat in San Francisco in 2008.
Secretary of Homeland Security Bill Richardson: Originally I was going to write that this cabinet posting should be abolished, but then realized that a large part of the department has to do with immigration, a serious issue. The New Mexico governor, a former Ambassador to the UN, and former Energy Secretary, ran for the 2008 presidential nomination with a compassionate view on immigration.
Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Daryl Hannah: actress and environmental activist. Although not a professional bureaucrat, she couldn't be worse than any Bush appointee.
Director of the National Drug Control Policy Willie Nelson: singer and marijuana legalization advocate. Check out these stats comparing US drug use with that of the Netherlands, where marijuana is treated as a "soft drug", separate from hard drugs like cocaine, heroin, or meth.
Mr. President-elect, I sincerely hope you'll keep some of these issues in mind as you choose your advisors.