Something’s been up with the White House lately. Turn on any major news network and the same big bold letters tend to scroll across the screen accompanied by a news anchor’s serious stare eyeing down the camera. This person resigned? Another fired? It seems as though every other day some US official is suddenly out of a job. Most recently Rex Tillerson, Trump’s former secretary of state, made headlines. He was most elegantly laid off in the form of a tweet.
Tillerson and his abrupt departure does not even scratch the surface of the turnover rate of the most recent White House. After a year of his presidency, 34 percent of Trump’s most influential advisors had either quit, changed positions, or were fired. As of this month, that statistic has risen to a whopping 43 percent.
Even more shockingly, the turnover rate for Trump’s first year is nowhere near normal. Ronald Reagan had a turnover rate of 17 percent, Bush had respective turnover rates of seven percent and six percent in both of his first terms in office. Clinton’s rate was 11%, and Obama’s was nine percent. And not only is Trump losing such a large volume of staff, he is also losing his most key positions. In the past year, Trump’s bid farewell to his Chief of Staff, Deputy Chief of Staff, Press Secretary, Director of the Office of Public Liaison, National Security Advisor and the Deputy National Security Advisor.
Whatever is happening to Trump’s staff, it is happening quickly, and is directly affecting those in the administration’s most influential positions. Which begs the question- why? Why is it that Trump’s most trusted advisors simply cannot keep a job?
Some argue that it is Trump’s priorities that make the turnover rate in his administration so high. Time and time again, Trump values loyalty over qualifications when it comes to hiring- and with his low tolerance for those who disagree with him, it is easy to picture why such a large amount of movement occurs in the White House. Loyalty also puts unqualified people in positions of power that they simply cannot handle, which sets the stage for people quitting because of the lack of preparedness they have for the job at hand. Others argue that it is Trump’s defensiveness that makes him so prone to restructuring, immediately using the positions around him as blame for what are usually not uniquely their mistakes.
Furthermore, the continuous movement of different people in and out of high positions in the White House causes for more disruption, and chaos, and disagreement, creating a continuous whirlpool of influx and outflux from positions that do not just include the ones that are the most high up.
Looking back at the constant headlines and hear-say that follows the Trump White House, it is easy to view the media as creating or over-inflating the image of an administration that is in chaos- but when looking at the numbers, it seems as though it is quite the opposite. Trying to make sense of the shocking statistics that follow Donald Trump and his time in office is certainly not an easy task, but when looking back at those blaring black words on the blinding television screen, the craziness and disorganization of the Trump office becomes strikingly clear. Maybe the surrealness of those ever present turnovers and changes are not as crazy, but instead an accurate picture of a surreal presidency. Maybe the coverage of Trump’s constant administrative movement is much more reality, than it is TV.