Governing Shouldn’t Be Easy, But Deep State is Making it Impossible

Politics ain’t beanbag. That expression has long been used to describe the roughs-and-tumble nature of politics, which has long been dominated by partisan gamesmanship, procedural maneuvering, and tricksy campaigning, anything to gain an electoral edge.

Politics is often ugly, messy and contrary to the values of our republic, but that’s also nothing new. For better or worse, centuries of partisan bickering have been baked into our understanding of government. Part of that acceptance is an understanding of boundaries. There has historically been a place where partisanship ends and governing begins. Unfortunately, in the age of Trump and the blind rage he elicits, this bright line is becoming ever duller. George Melloan writes for the Wall Street Journal:

A lobbyist friend who visited Capitol Hill recently came away horrified. “I now am ready to believe that the partisanship is so unhinged that it’s a threat to the Republic,” she writes in an email.

This Washington hysteria comes at a time of full employment, booming stocks, relative peace and technological marvels like an electronic robot named Alexa who fetches and plays for you songs of your choice. What’s the fuss about?

We all know the answer: Donald Trump. The Washington body politic has been invaded by an alien presence and, true to the laws of nature, that body is feverishly trying to expel it. These particular laws of nature demand rejection of anything that threatens the livelihoods and prestige of the permanent governing class.

The “threat” that has Washington quaking is the first serious effort in a long time to curb federal regulatory power, wasteful spending, and a propensity to run up mountainous budget deficits and debt.

President Donald Trump has inspired fear in just about every part of the Washington establishment. If his First 100 Days are any indication, it’s clear that his administration intends to usher in big changes to business-as-usual, instigating a thorough shake-up of federal agencies as well as a fundamental reconfiguration of their spheres of influence.

It began with his cabinet selections, which were immediately labeled as a “team of novices,” and criticized for wanting to dismantle the agencies they represent.

That, as they say, is the point. Whereas President Obama assembled a team of life-long government employees and career academics, who all proved to be excellent thinkers and terrible doers, President Trump built a cabinet full of private sector problem solvers. And frankly, the first problem that needed solving was how to reduce the size and scope and power with the agencies they were now tasked with running.

That’s proving to be easier said than done. As it turns out, career bureaucrats don’t take kindly to being asked to do things differently, or worse, to take a hike. As President Ronald Reagan famously quipped, “No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth!”

The Trump administration made it its mission to prove Reagan wrong. It attacked the bureaucracy with force and waged war on the regulatory state by rolling back a number of regulations and making it more difficult to create costly new ones. Unsurprisingly, the deep state is striking back. Kimberley Strassel, writing for the Wall Street Journal, describes one example – Ms. Francesca Grifo, the EPA’s so-called “Scientific Integrity Official.”

[Ms. Grifo] has been busier these past few months. In March the Sierra Club demanded that the EPA’s inspector general investigate whether the agency’s newly installed administrator, Scott Pruitt, had violated policy by suggesting carbon dioxide might not be the prime driver of global warming. The inspector general referred the matter to . . . the Scientific Integrity Official. So now an unelected, unappointed activist could pass judgment on whether the Senate-confirmed EPA chief is too unscientific to run his own agency. So much for elections. …

Messrs. Pruitt and Trump should take the story as a hint of the fight they face to reform government. It’s hard enough to overcome a vast bureaucracy that ideologically opposes their efforts. But add to the challenge the powerful, formalized resistance of posts, all across the government, like the Scientific Integrity Official. Mr. Obama worked hard to embed his agenda within government to ensure its survival. Today it is the source of leaks, bogus whistleblower complaints, internal sabotage.

Politics used to end on Election Day. At that point, the voters had made their choice and even those government officials who disagreed with that choice respected it enough to yield to it. Now, unfortunately, a deep state has emerged bent on undermining the president. What they fail to realize is that in so doing they’re also undermining our democracy.

Photo Credit: Another Believer. See more HERE.