As the leaks have come out over the last few months offering juicy details of President Donald Trump’s early administration and its missteps, many have said the leaks themselves are evidence of something dark and evil consuming Washington, D.C.
And some argue Trump’s election was a repulsion of those dark and evil forces.
In other words, there is this notion that a “deep state” or “administrative state” controls our federal government. The administrative state allegedly comprises a class of unelected bureaucrats — with cushy, high-paying jobs — who allegedly are smarter and wiser than the public at large.
From their perches in some nondescript, sterile government building in the District of Columbia, they write regulations benefiting their left-of-center worldviews at the cost of everyday Americans in between the East and West coasts.
A lot of that is true. People working for the various Cabinet departments and agencies in and around Washington largely do not look favorably upon those in flyover country. They think people need government to take care of them. They can’t think for themselves. That is why you need all these public service announcements explaining how to be a good dad, or why you should not eat an entire bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken.
To them, the misinformed Rush Limbaugh-listening and Fox News-viewing public are incapable of recognizing the dangers of global warming or food with genetically modified organisms.
They are in Washington, D.C., and you’re not. And there is a reason for that in their minds: they are smarter than you. They made it out of the shanties of Alabama, Arkansas and Oklahoma. They work in the big city. They hang out in hip places such as Adams Morgan and Columbia Heights while the rest of you drink your swill in the local Ruby Tuesday and cheer on the Dallas Cowboys.
But in reality, the “administrative state” is not that impressive. It is a mindset.
Sure, they have a job paying way more than the market value would offer in any other part of the country outside of D.C., New York City or Los Angeles.
But don’t forget, there is still a lower standard for government workers than those in the private sector.
As the old saying goes, “Good enough for government work.” For government employees, it’s not just a throwaway line meant for a chuckle — it is the work ethic.
Public-sector unions and government contracts have made it possible for a lot of people to get jobs beyond their level of ability and stay there for years or even decades. Some who should have hit their career-achievement ceiling as the night manager at Kinko’s have been able to have prosperous careers as a government employee.
Obviously, that is not to say government employees are bad. Those that work in law enforcement or the military put their lives on the line, and that deserves a premium.
But for the bean counter working for the Department of Agriculture, making $200,000 determining how to award farm grants — yes, there is a legitimate complaint to be made about the power of the so-called administrative deep state.
Some of the brightest and the best come out of the Ivy League schools and work for the government. But the ones who are the most capable go on to work in a field where they can exceed the DC-VA-MD earning potential.
That is one of the reasons why we may overestimate the “deep state.”
The vast majority of government employees think the collective is better than the individual. That is why they chose a profession working for Uncle Sam.
But Goldman Sachs is not seeking them out to run their oil and gas division any time soon. Nor does the Mayo Clinic think these people are qualified to do research on a cure for cancer.
In the end, they will not be what takes down Trump.
Certainly they have made his first hundred days much more difficult, at least the smarter ones in this so-called deep state.
As Americans, especially as Alabamians, we should not agonize over the idea that a bureaucracy can control us. They, sadly, can barely run a VA hospital. Ask any Alabamian fisherman about the arcane formula used to determine red snapper season and the literal act of Congress it would take to call that into question.
Our federal government does a lot of things well. We do not live in a third-world banana republic, and that is attributable to our system of government, but arguably also due to Americans being a good and decent people.
The deep-state boogeyman is certainly a factor in day-to-day politics, but it is also something the vast majority of Americans can overcome.
Yes, they have some power. There is no denying that.
But the people still elected Donald Trump — despite the “deep state’s” power to determine whether a private backyard retention pond is a lake and therefore subject to additional regulation.