In a fresh political shakeup, Kirstjen Nielsen abruptly resigned her post as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Temporarily replacing Nielsen is Kevin McAleenan, currently the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner.
As is usually the case with these events, President Trump thanked Nielsen for her services. Trump also referenced her interim successor’s role in border security, noting that he has “confidence that Kevin will do a great job!”
This time, though, I believe this political shakeup may lever a much more noticeable and powerful impact. Although Nielsen often acquiesced to Trump’s fierce and aggressive stance on immigration, she did so hesitantly. On more than one occasion, Nielsen reminded the President of the “limitations imposed on her department by federal laws, court settlements and international obligations.”
But now, the former Homeland Security Secretary joins a long and growing list of Trump administration casualties. For instance, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson appeared initially as a staunch supporter of the President’s agenda. But when he scoffed at certain requests, Tillerson found himself on the chopping block.
So too did former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Also a powerful conservative voice, Sessions famously recused himself from the Russian collusion investigation. That angered Trump to no end, which ultimately signaled his end.
Political Shakeup to Usher in a Bold New America
At the same time, both Sessions and Tillerson occupied roles that were too granular for most Americans to fully appreciate. Tillerson mostly delved into matters of foreign policy, while Sessions oversaw federal laws and mandates. They’re important issues, yes, but they didn’t quite resonate with everyday folks.
Nielsen’s ousting, though, is a different animal. In her place is a purported bulldog on issues of immigration and border security. Undoubtedly, McAleenan carefully scrutinized Nielsen’s dealings with the President. He’ll be eager to avoid the mistakes that Nielsen committed in order to prolong his tenure.
That likely means he’s not going to challenge Trump in any meaningful way. After all, let’s look at the optics. Like Trump, McAleenan is a well-to-do, influential white man. He has no card to play, unlike Nielsen’s gender card. If the President wants him gone, McAleenan will find himself on the front lawn at neck-breaking speed.
So with both pressure and ambition creating a potent mixture, I don’t see McAleenan promoting alternative discourses. Instead, he’ll (probably) gladly institute Trump’s vision for border control and security.
This will have a significant impact on the trajectory America takes, for better or for worse.