By Inez Feltscher Stepman • The Federalist
Most Americans are still under the illusion that when they elect a president, he takes control over the executive branch and proceeds to implement his agenda by working with Congress. Sadly, “School House Rock” is out of date.
An enormous amount of policymaking these days goes through the administrative state – the alphabet soup of agencies that have been proliferating like weeds since Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal. The outsourcing of legislative and adjudicatory powers to agencies is bad enough, and cannot square with the separation of powers between legislation, judiciary, and executive that is delineated in the Constitution. To make matters worse, these agencies and the employees who staff them are also politically unaccountable to the elected representatives of the people, violating not just the wise guardrails of our Constitution, but also the very idea of self-government.
Today, it is nearly impossible to fire the 2.8 million federal bureaucrats who staff the executive agencies, from which they issue regulations and policy guidance that directly affect the lives of Americans every day. Their permanence – they keep their offices regardless of who wins elections – is justified by their supposed political neutrality. Civil servants are supposed to neutrally and expertly carry out the policy goals set by elected officials.
If this Progressive vision of apolitical government administration was ever a reality, however,it certainly is not today. In 2016, 95 percent of all donations made by federal employees, including 99 percent of those coming from the State Department, went to Hillary Clinton.
New secretly recorded videos from Project Veritas reveal federal employees using a variety of tactics to impede the Trump administration from within. In them, employees admit to leaking information to a friendly leftist press, slowing down and frustrating the implementation of administration policy, and generally doing what democratic socialist and restaurant protestor Allison Hrabar calls “resist[ing] from the inside.”
“What’s kind of lucky is at the DOJ, we really can’t get fired,” she chuckles in the undercover video.
None of this should be at all surprising, considering that you don’t need an undercover camera to catch career bureaucrats touting their insider resistance credentials. Almost 200 people attended a publicly advertised seminar on how to use their federal jobs to resist the incoming Trump administration early in 2017.
Hrabar isn’t wrong: Current laws make firing a federal employee for even the most obvious of transgressions a Herculean task. It often takes well over a year, and requires multiple appeals similar to civil trials to fire government workers, even after they’ve been convicted of crimes while on the job. Our Byzantine system has created so many job protections for employees, Congress had to carve out a special exception to make it easier to fire the substantial number of people watching pornography at work.
“I have nothing to lose. It’s impossible to fire federal employees,” says Stuart Karaffa, who works for the State Department, in the Project Veritas video.
Until conservatives push Congress to make civil service reform a priority, and undo the century-old web of ridiculous job protections for federal employees, people like Hrabar and Karaffa will be free to keep “resisting” on the taxpayers’ dime. Nothing is likely to happen to any of the employees on the Project Veritas tapes. Trump’s agenda — and indeed, the agenda of any Republican president elected going forward — will continue to be stymied, slow-walked, and leaked to a salivating media by individuals who claim to work for the American people.
The deep state doesn’t have to involve dossiers, espionage, and explosive anonymous op-eds from high-ranking administration officials. It’s right there in plain sight: a rabidly partisan civil service of unelected bureaucrats, who quietly ensure that the people voters elect are unable to implement their agenda.
This is not how a constitutional republic functions. It’s not even how a democracy works. With all the hyperventilating about democracy among the chattering classes today, this real threat to self-government gets barely a peep. Unless civil service reform is enacted, bureaucrats who will never stand for election can continue to thwart the will of We the People, and we will never really drain the swamp.