By Moses Kamuiru.
Most demographically diverse administration
According to a recent analysis of President Obama’s top appointments, he has Obama has presided over the most demographically diverse administration in history. This is an often overlooked feature of the Obama presidency. Women and minorities hold the majority of top policy appointments within the executive branch for the first time in history. The transformation partly reflects a broader trend in U.S. society, but it also reveals the results of a calculated strategy by the nation’s first African-American president. The shifts are significant enough, experts say, that they may have forever transformed the face of government.
Professor Anne Joseph O’Connell of the University of California at Berkeley law school has compiled a database of all government appointees confirmed by the Senate to more than 80 important policy positions between January 1977 and August 2015. O’Connell said that her research reveals that Obama has placed women and minorities in 53.5 percent of those posts. His predecessor, President George W. Bush, by contrast, installed women and minorities in 25.6 percent, while President Clinton’s number was 37.5 percent. And Fanning’s nomination punctuates the fact that members of the LGBT community have also made similar advances under Obama: There are now hundreds of openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender appointees in the executive branch, compared with a handful in past administrations.
Diversity front burden
The first African-American president, also a Democrat, may have faced a particular burden on the diversity front. O’Connell said that although different constituencies have always pressed to have a place at the highest level of government, Democrat administrations are particularly sensitive to these concerns as they relate to race and gender. The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Institute’s Denis Dison said that the group had “binders of gays ready to go” when Obama’s transition team started looking for appointees in late 2008. The “binders” reference is an allusion to 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s response to criticism that he did not hire enough women when he was governor of Massachusetts. During a debate, Romney responded by saying that he had reached out to women’s groups, “and they brought us whole binders full of women.”
The impact of Obama’s diversity efforts could reverberate for decades in people such as Michael Blake, a son of Jamaican immigrants who was homeless as a child but worked on Obama’s two presidential campaigns and in the White House as associate director of public engagement. Last year, Blake won election to the New York State Assembly, with the help of a lot of other Obama alumni, including Marlon Marshall, who is now Hillary Rodham Clinton’s director of state campaigns and political engagement. Blake’s campaign slogan was about his transformation: “No House to the White House.” Obama, Blake said, has helped create a new network of people of color now climbing the ranks of government.
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Photo credits: The New York Times