Progressives have been quick to point out that they deserve representation in Joe Biden’s Cabinet, and they’re absolutely right.
Biden would not have won the election without the support of folks such as Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Biden is also right when he says he needs people in key positions who reflect the nation’s population as a whole, and he’s off to a good start with the selection of folks like Alejandro Mayorkas, who would be the first Latino and the first immigrant to lead the Department of Homeland Security, and Avril Haines, who would be the first woman to serve as director of national intelligence.
But he also needs another kind of diversity. He needs a diversity of opinions.
The idea of reaching out to the opposing party is far from new. Abraham Lincoln famously appointed a team of rivals and delighted in hearing a variety of opinions. Subsequent administrations have carried on the tradition.
In recent history, Bill Clinton had Republican William Cohen as his secretary of defense. George W. Bush named Democrat Norman Mineta as his secretary of transportation. Barack Obama had Republican Ray LaHood as his secretary of transportation and Republican Chuck Hagel as his secretary of defense.
And Biden has even more reason to reach across the aisle. He won the election due in no small part to the efforts of Republicans who had grown disenchanted with their party’s standard bearer, Donald Trump. These folks responded to Biden’s call for an end to the “grim era of demonization in America,” and they, too, deserve representation in the Biden administration.
To find those contrasting voices, Biden could start with the list of prominent Republicans who endorsed his candidacy.
He won Arizona thanks at least in part to the support of folks like Cindy McCain, the widow of U.S. Sen. John McCain, and Jeff Flake, the state’s former junior senator.
Then there’s John Kasich, the former Ohio governor and leading critic of the current president.
Or how about Meg Whitman, the former eBay and Quibi CEO, or Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard?
And then there’s Charlie Dent, a former Pennsylvania congressman who once led a bloc of Republican moderates known as the Tuesday Group.
Not all of them would be interested, of course. Kasich, for one, is on record saying he has no interest in returning to Washington.
Still, there is no shortage of candidates.
Biden promised to be a president for all Americans, whether they voted for him or not. An important first step would be a return to the sort of bipartisanship that has been sorely missing in the current administration.