As we know, the Donald Trump presidency has left many communities vulnerable and adrift, cast aside by a hostile and uncaring administration which preferred to cater to its far-right base. Thank god, then, that the incoming Joe Biden administration is already promising to rectify that by reaching out to one of America’s most marginalized groups: the CEOs.
This welcome revelation comes from a Bloomberg report on Tuesday about remarks that Cedric Richmond, the Louisiana congressman who is set to become the director of the Office of Public Engagement under Biden, gave during the Wall Street Journal CEO Council (yes, that is a thing) on Monday night.
Richmond first mentioned that he intends to create a position to reach out to conservatives, which was encouraging enough. “We’re not elected just to help Democrats or urban cities or minorities,” he said, according to Bloomberg. “We were elected to help this entire country and that means reaching out to conservatives, that means reaching out to rural areas, reaching out to people who didn’t vote for us.”
I look forward to the warm reception this outreach effort is likely to generate. As we know by now, conservatives in America are eager to forge common ground with Democratic administrations and do not want to crush them into a fine powder or put them on a QAnon list. They are also plagued with a lack of access to our most powerful institutions and thus require a special level of care and attention. Presumably, American socialists will also get their own special liaison, right? After all, Joe Biden was not only elected to help liberals, disaffected rich people, and war hawks, he is supposed to help all Americans. Get DSA on the line now, Cedric!
Then Richmond got to the really crucial stuff. Making a point of offering care and comfort to Republicans is all well and good, but Richmond and the Biden team know you need to go further than that to REALLY enact change. That’s why I was so heartened to see this part of the Bloomberg story (emphasis mine):
Richmond, who will resign his seat representing most of New Orleans in Congress, also said that part of his mandate would be “private sector engagement” and to serve as a “conduit straight into the White House” for chief executive officers.
“Nobody’s going to persuade me that somehow, some way that CEOs in this country are bad people,” he said. Business leaders, he added, “are creating jobs and they deserve a seat at the table.”
Richmond added that business would find an administration that is “willing to listen” and didn’t intend to be “punitive.”
This is so important. At last, a White House that is willing to prioritize the forgotten people: the CEOs. As we all know, CEOs are scrappy go-getters who, in spite of their beautiful spirits and enormous contributions, somehow find themselves with their noses pressed against the glass of American power. Joe Biden understands that this has to change, and that they need to be reassured that they are smart and kind and important, and that they shouldn’t worry about anything too “punitive” coming down the pike. Hallelujah!
In light of these words from Richmond, Biden’s choice to stack his administration with so many corporate-friendly voices makes sense. Take his latest pick, retired Gen. Lloyd Austin, who is set to be nominated for defense secretary. Austin would be the first Black defense secretary, which helps fulfill Biden’s pledge to recruit a racially diverse Cabinet. But fortunately for an administration hoping to show CEOs that they matter too, he also has a resume full of lucrative corporate gigs, as Politico summed up in literally the second-to-last paragraph of its story about his selection:
He retired after 41 years in 2016 and joined the board of directors of Raytheon Technologies, one of the largest Pentagon contractors and a potential sticking point among progressive lawmakers, who have raised concerns over appointing a Defense secretary who has ties with industry. He is also on the board of Nucor, the largest American steel producer, as well as health care company Tenet. He is a trustee of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, a philanthropic foundation.
Whew! As long as the CEOs are happy about this, so am I.