The Treason of the Bureaucrats
The internal governmental revolt against Trump may backfire on ‘the resistance’
Donald Trump’s election sparked concern in many quarters about how America’s political institutions would respond to a populist insurgency. The first real test is under way between the new administration and the federal bureaucracy—and the battle has the potential to be among the more productive of the Trump presidency. It could result in a long-delayed overhaul of the federal civil service, which has become an obstacle to sound governance. Paradoxically, such an outcome might be more the by-product of anti-Trump agitation than a sign of Trump’s political skill.
Only days after Trump’s inauguration, many bureaucrats joined “the resistance.” The interim head of the Department of Justice, Sally Yates, refused to implement the president’s executive order regarding refugees and was promptly fired. (The honorable thing to do if she felt she could not in good conscience implement the order would have been to resign.) News stories circulated that federal civil servants were considering ways to defy the president. The Washington Post reported that career government employees were seeking advice from Obama appointees still on the job on how to push back against the new administration without jeopardizing their posts. Some employees created social-media accounts as vehicles for future leaks. Others attended forums and workshops on how to oppose Trump.
Daniel DiSalvo is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and associate professor of political science at the City College Of New York (CUNY).
This piece originally appeared in Commentary