It appears that various staff members of the Trump administration are trapped in a revolving door of admission, discharge, and readmission inside the Trump administration and going at a rate at least equivalent to most other modern presidencies.
Dani Rodrik, a Turkish born economist and Professor of International Political Economy at Harvard, in an op-ed in the Boston Globe, outlines his modest proposal in order to address this crisis. He requests for what is effectively an academic blacklisting of Trump administration’s members, who, Rodrik asserts, should be banned from receiving “even a semblance of honor or recognition” from the gatekeepers of higher learning.
“Universities should uphold both free inquiry and the values of liberal democracy,” writes Rodrik. “The first calls for unhindered exchange and interaction with Trumpist views. The second requires that the engagement be carefully calibrated, with not even a semblance of honor or recognition bestowed on those serving an administration that so grossly violates liberal democratic norms.”
Rodrik openly requests academia to apply a different treatment to members of the Trump administration from the members of all previous administrations, which caused outrage among academics over the University of Virginia Public Affairs center’s appointment of Marc Short, Trump’s former director of legislative affairs, to a one-year senior fellow position. Before that, Harvard assigned Trump campaign staffer Corey Lewandowski as a fellow at the university’s Institute of Politics.
According to Rodrik, such appointments present a “serious dilemma” to administrations as a result of “the danger of normalizing and legitimizing what can only be described as an odious presidency”:
The Trump administration was forced to confront universities with a serious dilemma. On one hand, universities have to be open to diverse points of view, including those that aren’t in accordance with the mainstream opinion or are considered threatening to specific groups. Students and faculty who share Trump’s point of view should be free to speak without censorship. Universities must remain for free inquiry and debate. Furthermore, schools and institutes of public affairs are obliged to offer student and faculty opportunities to engage with the policymakers of the day.
On the other hand, there is the hazard of normalizing and legitimizing what can only be described as an odious presidency. Trump everyday infringes the norms on which liberal democracy rests. He gradually diminishes freedom of the media and independence of the judiciary, upholds racism and sectarianism, and promotes prejudice. He merrily utters one falsehood after another.
Rodrik express complete disapproval of those serving in the Trump administration as “necessarily tainted by the experience” and thus unworthy of being honored by universities. The Trump “stain” doesn’t apply only to key members of the administration; according to Rodrik, but to anyone who has held any position under this “shameful presidency”:
Those serving with him are unavoidably affected by the experience. Trump’s close associates and political appointees are his enablers —not considering their personal merits and their attempts to disassociate themselves from Trump’s utterances. Qualities like intelligence, effectiveness, integrity, and collegiality — words used by Miller Center Director William J. Antholis to give a good reason for Short’s appointment — have little to commend them when they are deployed to advance an illiberal political agenda.
The stain expands beyond political operatives and covers economic policymakers as well. Trump’s cabinet members and high-level appointees are equally responsible for propping up a shameful presidency. They deserve opprobrium due to holding cranky views on, say, the trade deficit or economic relations with China, but as well as for their continued service which makes them completely complicit in Trump’s behavior.
Rodrik justifies his call for defining which he describes it as“clear rules of engagement” with members of the Trump administration by implying that “there is no conflict between encouraging free speech and exchange of views, which these rules are meant to support, and the university making its own values clear.”