Most of the controversy emanating from Washington is founded on a simple question: Who is in charge? It is what divides conservatives and progressives – those who believe in limited central government operating on the manifest will of the public or a massive regulatory federal government presided over by an unelected elite. Answering that question determines the nature of our republic.
A Democratic Republic — as our Founders created – assumes that we the people are the policy decision-makers via free elections. We see our government officials as “representatives” of our wisdom and will – and those employed to carry out our will are known as public servants. That is the conservative vision.
On the other side of the political continuum is the progressive view – that the only role of we the people is to put in place leaders to rule over us. In fact, it is an authoritarian view that functions to minimize our ability to influence policy. We the people are determined to be too ill-informed and even too noble to know what is good for us – and for society in general.
So … who IS in charge?
We like to believe that it is our elected representatives that implement our will and the bureaucracy functions only to implement. But what if the bureaucracy becomes more powerful than the elected leaders? Answer: Authoritarianism. Russia and China are the perfect examples. Leaders come and go – some more powerful than others – but it is the bureaucracy that remains in place and picks the leaders and produces the policies and programs.
That is what is going on in Washington today. Whether it is conscious strategy or political instinct, President Trump came to office as an instrument of restoring the constitutional powers of the presidency against the growing authority of that bureaucracy … the establishment … the deep state – a rose by any other name.
Since 1789, it was assumed that the President would have great power over the Executive Branch. He could hire and fire at will – largely to make sure that the policies of the President – the policies that we the people endorsed with our vote – will be implemented. “To the victor goes the spoils” was the mantra proposed by Martin Van Buren and implemented by President Andrew Jackson.
When new Presidents took office the workforce of the Executive Branch change significantly – especially if the President was of a different philosophy of governance. Civil Service changed all that. In the name of protecting workers, bureaucrats were given virtual absolute job security. This went far beyond secretaries and clerks. It made high-level “managers” – the folks who interpret and implement policies and laws – and create regulations (or not) – immune from the influence of the elective process.
Many seem to find it strange that a so-called “White House staffer” would be sabotaging the President. That should come as no surprise because most of the White House staff are permanent civil service employees – and even worse, they are virtually all progressive Democrats.
This is not a new problem. In my days in the Nixon administration, Executive Branch bureaucrats openly refused to obey White House orders. At the office of Economic Opportunity, they hung the President’s official photographs upside down in a display of disrespect.
As far back as the 1970s, I often wrote of the danger of an increasingly more powerful bureaucracy. I referred to it as the fourth branch of our government – and arguably the most powerful. As one bureaucrat told me, “The elected officials come and go, but we are here forever.”
Not only has our central government grown beyond all expectations, it has increased its defiance of conservative governance. Bureaucrats are overwhelmingly Democrats – and they love to work to elect Democrats to public office. That is because progressive Democrats feed the Bureaucracy’s desire to grow and exert more self-generated influence.
There is a natural reason that all government workers lean to the authoritarian left. Even if they espouse conservative principles personally, at the office they all want more money, more staff and more control over policy. Collectively, that means a huge, powerful regulatory government. Anyone who believes that the bureaucracy does not have a political/philosophic bias – and works at it — is an ignorant fool.
Consider how may times bureaucrats have leaked negative information about Trump. Consider how many times bureaucrats had testified against him. And most of all, consider their testimony.
We see the echoes of progressive authoritarianism in the specious claims of Democrats and bureaucrats that the Department of Justice, Department of State and virtually every other department and agency of the Executive Branch are to be independent of presidential authority and action. That is utter nonsense – and it is dangerous.
The President may USE his authority in ways liberals may not like, but Trump has never really abused his authority. What he has done is used his authority to push back against bureaucratic rule. If there is a question about the proper use of presidential authority, it is up to the Supreme Court to settle the matter. Sometimes they decide against a specific presidential action – but in most cases, they support the President.
Democrats, bureaucrats and the media accuse Trump of working outside the “norms” – not following “established procedures.” How many times have bureaucracy-loving Democrats and their media allies said that Trump goes against the advice and wishes of … the bureaucrats? In other words, the President – any President – is to be the implementor of bureaucratically established policies and procedures.
No President in modern times has fought for the constitutional power of the presidency over the power of the bureaucracy more than Trump. Consequently, the bureaucracy has never fought harder against a President than it has against Trump.
For the sake of the Republic, we should all hope that Trump wins this battle. The increasing power of the bureaucracy is diminishing the power of we the people to establish policy via our elected officials. It is turning our elected officials into the servants of the nameless, faceless unelected bureaucratic rulers.
So, there ‘tis.