Who will serve in a Trump administration? We can expect that Trump’s most enthusiastic surrogates—former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani—will be given prominent roles. Trump’s most devoted cheerleaders have been has-beens (like Gingrich and Giuliani) and never-weres who were unafraid of the reputational consequences of backing Trump either because they were so devoted to his cause or, in some cases, because they felt they had everything to gain and nothing to lose.
If loyalty is Trump’s chief criterion for hiring, he’ll run into a serious problem. There are countless roles that will need be filled at the Trump White House and in executive branch agencies, most of which offer sleepless nights and hardly any glory. Because his campaign was so small and because it alienated so many elite Republicans, it will be difficult for President Trump to limit himself to loyalists. He will have to reach out to at least some of the men and women who opposed him.
One of the biggest challenges facing Republicans in the post-Reagan era is that as the party has grown more stridently anti-elitist, it has hemorrhaged college-educated professionals. Though the GOP has compensated for this loss in electoral terms, it’s contributed to an asymmetry in the realm of policy expertise. Whereas Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign had vast numbers of credentialed policy experts at its beck and call, the Trump campaign had a small, tight-knit coterie of contrarians, who zagged when other Republicans of their social class zigged. That’s not a terrible thing when you’re waging war on the conventional wisdom. But it makes life far more difficult when you need warm bodies to fill staff positions. Most people are conformists, not renegades. And in intellectual circles, including in conservative intellectual circles, full-throated support for Trump has been a minority position.