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Instability in the Network of President Trump’s Staff

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On Wednesday, September 6, The New York Times released an Op-Ed article by an unnamed Trump administrative official that spoke to the “quiet resistance” within the staff towards the President. The article describes deliberate acts by staff within Trump’s administration with the aim to prevent certain actions from Trump. The piece quotes officials describing Trump as “impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective,” with the administration relying on the “adults in the room” to “prevent disaster.” The article follows with statements from both those in favor and opposition of the Op-Ed, providing insight into the conflicting sentiments among members of Trump’s staff. Overall, however, the article demonstrates a clear presence of opposition toward Trump from within his own administration.

Such structure of relations between the staff toward President Trump is worrisome because it suggests an unbalanced network. This is apparent by the obvious negative relations by some officials toward Trump. In this way, the administration as a whole is not a cohesive network of positive relations. This by itself is not very unexpected, since it is not uncommon for colleagues to have negative relations. However, the secretive aspect of these negative relations, by which those with negative sentiment towards Trump are not necessarily open about such feelings, complicates matters. This can make it difficult to classify relationships as positive or negative since individuals may be discrete or secretive about their true feelings toward another. It then brings about the question, how does one classify the relationship between an official who secretly harbors a negative sentiment toward Trump that is unrecognized by the majority of staff? More broadly, how does one classify the relationship between two individuals if outward sentiments do not reflect inward feelings? While some of the administration may be vocal or apparent in their opposition, showing clear negative relationships, others might not display such boldness, making it difficult to discover the true structure of the network.

Furthermore, this ambiguity makes it difficult to establish as a whole whether the network is balanced or unbalanced. One cannot say if a network satisfies the Structural Balance Property if it is unclear which type of relationship follows between individuals. However, despite such, one can perhaps make the assumption that the network is unbalanced since both the secretive and forthright opposition within the staff demonstrates an inability for the administration to be as efficient as possible.

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