Counterpoint to Thomas Adams’ “Deep State” article

Regarding the deep state article…  Your point is well founded and clearly articulated. 

However, I wonder if it is the point that you meant to make?  It was persuasive regarding:

  • the importance / ideal of small government, 
  • the importance of pursuing excellence, fairness and impartiality in whatever unelected bureaucracy is going to exist even in a small government,
  • and correcting issues where we find that we have missed the ideal.  

The term “Deep State” connotes conspiracy and some sort of coordination/collusion.  You make the point that you do not believe that is what is happening in the article when you say “It is highly unlikely the deep state is a secret shadow government with a top down organization with one person, a committee or board calling the shots.”  It is an important, if minor, point, because this is how we can talk past one another in society.  Unelected bureaucracy may not sound as scary or emotionally triggering as “Deep State”, but precision of language is important for clear communication.

When you say “We just happen to live during a time when the “left” is in control of the deep state.”  First, you suggest that you don’t believe anyone has “control”.  Second, that is a stretch to be able to demonstrate.  Professor Lipson doesn’t make that point, and I suspect that was a conscious decision.

What about bureaucrats that use their authority to aid conservatives and/or hurt liberal causes?  That is what, for example, the discussion of institutional racism and police brutality are all about.  The black business that cannot get a loan, permit, license, or the hiring practices that do not generate racial equity.  Given pushing for greater racial justice is associated far more with the left and that defending the police is associated far more with the right… it would seem to be biased against liberals.  We just don’t see it when we are looking at it through a conservative filter.

You articulate this folly beautifully in your description of congressional staffers highlighting their preferred points in a bill synopsis.  Given that the Senate is currently (October 2020) controlled by the right, wouldn’t that same bias cut right since they would be more likely to hire staffers that reflect their political bias?  Given that the right held both houses as soon as two years ago (2018), wouldn’t that bias have cut right?  If we think objectively about this, I am confident that we would find that government employees are roughly equivalent to the political makeup of the country. Certainly that is the case in legislatures and executive offices throughout government.

In these instances, the lean of the department/office is based upon the makeup of that department, the processes and the procedures.  It is folly to look at something as complicated as government bureaucracy and try to add up bias and try to find the answer to an overall bias equation.  “I have added up the bias of the 2 million people that work in the federal government and can definitively say that overall it tilts right or left” is not empirically verifiable in any manner that is available to me or the reader.

A similar example of an illusion of bias is “cancel culture”.  I did a round table on cancel culture during this past summer.  Cancel culture is widely discussed as a problem with the left of the political spectrum.  Part of my prep was digging up as many examples as possible.  There are many.  However, the single person responsible for the most examples that I could find was President Donald Trump.  We might argue whether President Trump is on the right side of the political spectrum and there are plenty of arguments that suggest that he is left of center (deficit spending alone might convince many), however let’s accept the conventional view.  I documented only a fraction of the people that he called for to be fired for disagreeing with him and/or companies that he asked to be boycotted because they disagreed with him.  Once again, these things balance out.  If it is wrong, it must be wrong for both sides.  To be good advocates for justice, we have to be unbiased in our view of bias.

The “deep state” exists only if your definition is an uncoordinated series of unassociated biases of bureaucracy.  Then, agreed.  Cut bureaucracy where possible, address bias in policy where we find it, root out unethical or illegal activity…  yes, yes, yes…  eliminating bias in government is an eternity long effort though.  No quick fixes.  We, conservatives, talk about it as if it is a simple/clear problem to be fixed (all with hand picked examples that are universally “left leaning”).  That is wrong headed.

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