June 26, 2019 | 72° F

EDITORIAL: Anonymous op-ed raises questions

Secret opposition may undermine democracy


On Sept. 5, The New York Times published an anonymous op-ed entitled, “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration.” The piece was written by a senior official in President Donald J. Trump’s administration — senior official being a term used in Washington, D.C. to refer to people who hold positions in the upper echelons of the government, like a member of the cabinet. The op-ed, in an odd way, both praised the successes of the nation since Trump took office, while at the same time discrediting and casting doubt on the president’s competence, assuring its readers that there are people in the administration working to steer the country away from otherwise imminent danger. 

Many people found the information they got from this op-ed refreshing and hopeful — like assurance that there is some sort of an American guardian angel planted in the White House looking out for us all. Many others found the op-ed troubling. In a speech a few days after the release of the op-ed, former President Barack Obama gave his view, “the claim that everything will turn out okay because there are people inside the White House who secretly aren't following the president’s orders, that is not a check. I’m being serious here. That’s not how our democracy’s supposed to work. These people aren’t elected. They’re not accountable. They’re not doing us a service by actively promoting 90 percent of the crazy stuff that’s coming out of this white house, and then saying, don’t worry, we’re preventing the other 10 percent.That’s not how things are supposed to work. This is not normal. These are extraordinary times. And they’re dangerous times.” 

Obama’s response to the op-ed seems reasonable. While many disapprove of Trump — more than 53 percent of the United States — he was elected president after all. The president is elected and then appoints a cabinet as, in a way, an extension of himself. So there is something troubling about the idea that despite our nation having elected Trump as president, those within his administration are performing some sort of de-facto administrative coup — that does not sound Democratic at all. Though Trump is unpopular, he is still the president. Just imagine if a similar op-ed was published while Obama was president. 

Some say it would have been preferable for the White House official who authored the op-ed to have simply resigned from their position and stated their reasoning publicly. But would that really have been better? Their goal, it seems based on the piece, is to continue to work in the administration and steer Trump in a way that will keep us all afloat. To resign and come out publicly would just be another government official stating their negative views on the president’s actions. 

In the end, this op-ed will likely not change anything. All it seemingly really did, other than assure readers that there are people in the White House essentially deliberately opposing the president’s orders, is remind us that Trump is at least in some ways irrational — something we have all heard before. The president was enraged when he heard of the op-ed, and is now working to find out who wrote it. If the author’s ultimate goal is really to help the United States, how is causing a frenzy in the White House by releasing that piece supposed to help achieve that goal? It seems the opposite of a frenzy would be ideal.


The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 150th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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