Deep State vs. Free State

We essentially have two federal governments: representatives and bureaucrats.

“Who rules the United States?” —Matthew Continetti, Washington Free Beacon

Continetti’s question is the most pressing one currently facing the nation. That’s because we essentially have two federal governments: the one elected by the people, the other a conglomeration of unelected bureaucrats referred to as the “deep state,” “permanent bureaucracy,” or “shadow government.”

There is every indication the latter group is determined to thwart the results of the election. Why? “Occasionally the real force behind a political ideology is the subconsciously held desire that a certain group of people should not be allowed to rise in relative status,” writes George Mason University professor Tyler Cowen.

In other words, Americans dismissed as irredeemable “deplorables” managed to rise in relative status by successfully electing the biggest deplorable of all. And those who see themselves as what University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds describes as “the educated meritocrats who ran America,” the ones who “were always the insiders, the elite, the winners, regardless of which team came out ahead in the elections” are determined to stop that rise — by any means necessary.

Thus, as columnist Victor Davis Hanson explains “the political and media opponents of Donald Trump are seeking to subvert his presidency in a manner unprecedented in the recent history of American politics.”

This subversion is taking place in a number of arenas. At the EPA, following a Trump directive mandating all of that agency’s research be subjected to “political review” before release elicited tweets by anonymous employees from over dozen federal agencies insisting Trump is trying to censor them. People in the intelligence community have likely committed felonies to take out former national security advisor Michael Flynn, when they’re not busy leaking transcripts of private conservations between Trump and the leaders of Mexico and Australia. Courts are defying unambiguous statues that give the president the power to keep inadmissible aliens out of nation, while lawyers from the ACLU and Mexico plot to overwhelm the immigration court system until it breaks down. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s effort to oust State Department officials inimical to Trump’s agenda is deemed a bloodbath, with Former Assistant Secretary for Non-Proliferation Tom Countryman declaring it is “irresponsible to let qualified, nonpartisan, experienced people go before you have any idea of their replacement. You can’t do foreign policy by sitting in the White House, just out of your back pocket.”

Really? The “front pocket” machinations of the State Department has left the Middle East in complete turmoil, Iran on a path to nuclear weapons, China and Russia exploiting Obama administration-created power vacuums, and our Libyan ambassador murdered — a murder followed by a State Department disinformation campaign thoroughly discredited by Judicial Watch again last week.

Nevertheless, Countryman’s attitude is indicative. It doesn’t matter that supposedly qualified, nonpartisan, experienced people made a complete mess of things. All that matters is that they’re apparently facing the consequences of doing so before suitable replacements can be found.

Suitable to whom? The sometimes arrogant elitist Bill Kristol gives the game away in a single tweet: “Obviously strongly prefer normal democratic and constitutional politics,” he writes. “But if it comes to it, prefer the deep state to the Trump state.”

Kristol is not alone. “On the morning of November 9, 2016, America’s elite — its talking and deciding classes — woke up to a country they did not know,” explains Commentary’s Nicholas Eberstadt. “To most privileged and well-educated Americans, especially those living in its bicoastal bastions, the election of Donald Trump had been a thing almost impossible even to imagine.”

Why should they? When these so-called Best and Brightest brought our financial system to the brink of Armageddon in 2008, they got bailed out with $700 billion in taxpayer funds without a single resignation demanded in return. The term “too big to fail” become part of the American lexicon. Far worse, those deemed fail-proof began to believe their insulation from the trials and tribulations of “bitter clingers” amounted to manifest destiny.

Manifest destiny borne of self-professed “superior” wisdom.

“Donald Trump did not cause the divergence between government of, by, and for the people and government, of, by, and for the residents of Cleveland Park and Arlington and Montgomery and Fairfax counties,” Continetti explains, the latter group representative of the shadow government. “But he did exacerbate it. He forced the winners of the global economy and the members of the D.C. establishment to reckon with the fact that they are resented, envied, opposed, and despised by about half the country.”

Yet far more ominous is the reality this reckoning “did not humble the entrenched incumbents of the administrative state,” Continetti adds. “It radicalized them to the point where they are readily accepting, even cheering on, the existence of a ‘deep state’ beyond the control of the people and elected officials.”

It’s worse than that. As columnist Michael Walsh reveals, an outgoing Obama administration gave the National Security Agency (NSA) expanded powers to share globally intercepted personal communications with the federal government’s 16 other intelligence agencies prior to applying privacy protections. As the New York Times concludes, this increases the risk officials “will see private information about innocent people.”

PJ Media columnist Richard Fernandez likens this Obama administration effort to the laying of “political Claymores,” as in mines planted to blow the minute the Trump administration tries to upset the Status Quo. Michael Flynn was their first victim, but as columnist John Podhoretz explains, “if they can do it to Mike Flynn, they can do it to you.”

As Fernandez aptly notes, such machinations are driven by a “suicidal factionalism” that has destroyed other nations and is quite capable of destroying ours. “If Trump is overthrown by the Deep State in a year, he’s unlikely to be the last,” Fernandez warns. “If neither faction will suffer itself to be governed by the other, whoever succeeds Trump can expect his term to be short.”

Sadly, it appears the American Left, the media, and a number self-professed “principled” Never-Trumpers would countenance what amounts to a constitutional crisis at best — or second civil war at worst — as a “reasonable” tradeoff to rid the nation of someone so antithetical to the default understanding of their own status, power, wealth and privilege, they would even question his sanity.

What is left unsaid is that, by extension, they question the sanity of everyone who voted for Trump as well. Such arrogance, epitomized by the thousands of mental health professionals who signed a petition declaring Trump “is mentally ill and must be removed,” reveals the raw hatred and overwhelming hypocrisy of people whose professed commitment to tolerance, diversity — and the Constitution — only mattered when they were getting their way.

So, who rules us? “The simple and terrible answer is we do not know,” Continetti warns. “But we are about to find out.”

Not exactly. Many Americans found out long ago, and they’ve attempted to put a stop to it. Trump is their flawed champion representing “the only shield, available now, against the ruling class’s unconstrained expansion,” as Boston University professor Angelo Codevilla puts it.

Only time will tell if Trump is the last shield against it.

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