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HORIST: A President is entitled to his team … and so are we the people

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.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.


  1. Haugen

    Around 50% of the federal departments and agencies could be consolidated with other agencies or just eliminated altogether. Why do we have a dozen or so Security agencies? Why do we need the ATF? A jumped up tax collection department under the treasury department. We already had the federal marshals office and the FBI. Health and Human services? HUD? How many more?
    I have several friends either still in civil service or retired from the same. Many of them admittedly did little more than send e mails and letters justifying their jobs and budgets. No wonder so many government programs fail miserably. Too many bureaucrats getting paid to actually get the funds out where they are supposed to go. Way too many fingers in the pie.

    • Craig Michael Vandertie

      Close to 1,000,000 non-essential federal employees speaks a googolplex of data on just how much taxpayer money is completely squandered.

  2. Phil in TX

    Thank you for this article, Larry. I had never realized the extent to which the federal bureaucracy excercises IT’S will over the will of the people. This scares the living crap out of me. The laws that keep bureaucrats in place and in power over the President and Congress need to be changed and right now! Stop the madness!

    Phil in TX

  3. Linde Barrera

    The Convention of States is a “states rights” organization that is gaining traction. People who think the US federal government is too large should look into the Convention of States to limit the power of the feds, for which our Constitutional Founding Fathers advocated.

    • Notsorosie

      I had heard that President Trump missed a huge opportunity last January after the government shutdown surpassed 30 days. By some rule or another he could have released everyone from their positions. I don’t know if this was true and he just didn’t know it, but it would have prevented a lot of later issues. Of course the Democrats probably would have impeached him over that!

    • Craig Michael Vandertie

      I am a member of the Convention of States website, am all for putting more power in the hands of my state legislature, but that is only because currently the WI state legislature is controlled by members of the Republican party although the mindless minnions of WI elected that Communist Tony Evers as governor, if the Republicans lose control of our legislature it might be better for the Federal government to be making most of the decisions.

  4. Miguel

    What utter bull shit you write! For starters, let’s go to paragraphs 2&3, where except for your spin, there is absolutely no difference in what conservatives vs liberals want from their government official-both expect them to represent their views, and if they don’t they get bounced out at election time. Next let’s consider your premise that conservatives want to restore power to the executive branch. Either your readers are too stupid or just don’t remember how conservatives blasted President Obama for taking too much power in the form of executive actions-of course Trump has far outdone Obama in this area. Enough with defending the indefensible!

    • Craig Michael Vandertie

      Miguel the only mindless fool here is you, I can bet you are not a legal United States citizen and hope ICE agents soon come to call to deport your skanky butt back to Mexico.

    • Craig Michael Vandertie

      Even if you are not an illegal alien you certainly are a Dimethyltryptamine addict whose mind is in a perpetual state of being scattered across numerous planes of existence with absolutely no grasp on any one reality.

    • Knock Knock

      The sweeping government programs that would oversee (control) all your healthcare, your education and so much more are essentially the liberal view of what the president should do… and that means that if the president does what they elect him to do then he is to create a giant government that controls everything you do. How do you think they can force all they want to do with the Green New Deal without incredible overreaching power? What was the end result of Obama’s ‘affordable’ healthcare – rules, regulations, more government and less healthcare! So yes, it is fundamentally different than what conservatives want. Your point being mute based on the after effect. Obama went beyond his ‘power’ to do things he had no authority to do as is the case with the dreamers. Trump has not gone over his authority as yet at all. Like it or not his actions are within his authority. So Miguel, you’re just wrong. It’s sad that you can’t see it and instead of cursing and acting a fool perhaps you should pay better attention.

  5. Rawhide

    #1 We are not a democratic republic. We are a Constitutional Republic. This is something that the democrats and some republicans, have been lying about for 60 years. We elect representatives to represent us in Congress, that makes the government a representative Republic.

    #2 The problem is the bureaucrats, they have their own little kingdoms in government and refuse to give up their power. And haven’t you noticed that regardless of which party is in control of the government, nothing ever changes. That’s because the bureaucrats have their agenda and it isn’t our agenda.

    The time is coming when the House of Government in Washington, DC will be cleansed. And when that time comes, there will be a lot of crying and the gashing of teeth. And government employees will be running for their lives, just ahead of the lynch mobs. And I look forward to that day, so that the country will regain its constitutional basis.

    • Joe Gilbertson

      Not quite right. The House of Representatives represents people. This is the democracy part of the equation. The Senate represents territories, this the the republic part. So the original statement of democratic republic is correct (as is Constitutional Republic, we are that too…).