The presidential field that Joe Biden emerged from last year featured a record six women, two African Americans (one a woman who is also Indian American), a Latino, and the Democratic Party’s first openly gay and first Asian American candidates ever. The campaign unfolded amid the country’s long overdue racial reckoning, the advancement of the #MeToo movement and ongoing advocacy by the LGBTQ community and its supporters.
So the expectation was that Biden’s Cabinet would be diverse. But the reality is that there is no precedent for what Biden has done to be so inclusive at the federal government’s highest advisory levels.
The nation’s 46th white male president (Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th president of the United States) and Kamala Harris (the country’s first Black Indian American woman vice president) long promised a White House that “looked more like America.” And they have delivered. Thirteen of the 25 Cabinet-level nominations have gone to people of color. Twelve of the 25 nominees are women.
People of color and women already have posts they never had. Former Gen. Lloyd Austin is the first Black secretary of defense. Economist Janet Yellen is the first woman secretary of the treasury. Rep. Deb Haaland would be the first Native American Cabinet secretary — of the interior — if confirmed.
The landmarks don’t end there. Transportation Secretary nominee Pete Buttigieg would be the first openly gay Cabinet member to be confirmed by the Senate. And Biden’s nomination of Dr. Rachel Levine as assistant health secretary means the Senate will vote on the confirmation of an openly transgender federal official for the first time. Harris’ history-making status was only the start for Biden, who has surrounded himself with smart, capable people who are a microcosm of America. Diversity isn’t about checking boxes. A Cabinet that reflects the country can best serve it.
— The San Diego Union-Tribune