Search This Blog

Jan 4, 2021

The Deep State does exist, and we are better off for it

It is not what Trump thinks, not a conspiracy of bureaucrats against him. This country has a cadre of civil servants for whom maintaining the democratic institutions is more important than personal interests. They are both Republicans and Democrats, they serve at different levels, some political appointees, and some are career bureacrats. Brad Raffensperger is just one of them. So much focus has been on Trump’s bullying that his responses got lost. He is calm, reasonable, and factual. When he has enough of the nonsense, he basically hangs up on the President of the United States. That took courage and convictions. He is a part of the real Deep State, perhaps the most important of all democratic institutions. Yes, the division of powers works, too – look at the Supreme Court’s mostly honorable performance. Yes, the freedom of the press is important. However, we also saw how close Trump came to overriding the legitimate elections. The last-ditch defense are the civil servants in every state and every county. Their unwillingness to go along with the attempted coup is what made the difference in the end. The irony is that Trump can intimidate a number of US Senators, but not a county or a state election official. The layer of these people is very deep; hence the Deep State metaphor seems to be appropriate.

I think it is time we recognize all these people who made sure the institutions of democracy have been holding under the unprecedented onslaught from Donald Trump and a group of reckless opportunists he was able to gather. The system is holding, thanks to Raffensperger and people like him everywhere. Perhaps a quarter of republican Senators will vote to not certify the results of the elections. However, the rest of them will, and this is the story that we need to focus on. Let’s celebrate the good news: democracy is winning, and authoritarianism is failing.

That works on a smaller scale as well. I have seen countless time when my colleagues override their preferences and make decision in the long-term interest of the institution. They are mindful of the institutional memory, and of setting precedents. They are aware that fair governance is not a one-time thing, it is an institution that needs preservation and cannot be damaged to expediently solve a one-time problem. The depth of the Deep State goes all the way down.

No comments:

Post a Comment