If you want to read what official Washington thinks, you need only pick up a copy of the Washington Post. It’s the company newsletter for the federal government. And the Post is filled with doomsday articles about President Donald Trump’s administration.
The latest screed discusses how several of his Cabinet secretaries are—shock!—at odds with their permanent staffs. The Trump appointees are running departments which they have—horrors!—“sometimes disparaged.” These officials are even—the mind boggles!—“crafting key initiatives in private.”
Only in Washington could such behavior be considered an affront to public decency. One can sense the disturbance in The Force, to use Star Wars speak.
Rather than relying on the people who have mismanaged the government for years, and got us into our current mess, the president’s appointees are looking beyond Washington. Explained the shocked Post: “For the most part they have erected small, secluded citadels within each department, where they can advance policies that reflect the priorities of the president.”
What chutzpah! Those working for the president are trying to implement his priorities, which the American people endorsed by voting for him.
What is most disconcerting is not that the Post is appalled that Cabinet secretaries would be loyal to the man who appointed them. It is that the paper seems surprised that such behavior is possible. After all, Washington, D.C. is well known for the phenomenon of “growing” in office. Which always means surrendering to the reigning zeitgeist and applause of capital elites.
It’s been the routine in Washington. People across America send principled conservatives to drain the swamp. They show up and are vilified—especially by the Post—for their provincial ways and backward views. So more responsible, seasoned politicians generously take the newcomers under their wing and educate the country bumpkins in the ways of Washington.
It doesn’t take long for these new conservatives to “go native” and start voting for more spending, implementing new regulations, expanding federal power, and advocating compromise, all in the name of good governance, of course. They assure their supporters that they still believe in limited government and individual liberty. But, they add, it’s important not to be extreme and unreasonable. Just imagine what life in the capital would be like if someone actually resisted “progress,” the inevitable advance of what all good and decent people realize is the inevitable march of history!
But it seems like members of the Trump Cabinet are doing just that. The Post singles out Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt for special attention. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson also come in for their share of criticism.
These Trump officials actually had the nerve to reassign Senior Executive Service employees. They changed transgender policies. They refused to bar funding for private schools that discriminate against LGBT students. They disagreed with climate change policy. They even supported cutting spending, and returning power to the states.
Secretary Zinke boldly observed: “When you start to drain the swamp, you know what happens?” His answer: “You start to expose serpents.”
Professional employees “remain skeptical” of their new bosses, the Post tells us. So bad has it become that some bureaucrats threatened to resign. (Not actually resigned. But threatened to resign.) This is heart-stopping stuff in the nation’s capital.
No doubt it comes as a shock to those who view themselves as the natural government to find out that the new president is operating as though the American people chose him to govern. Even worse, his appointees believe they should follow his, not the Post’s, lead.
The paper’s criticisms show that the president and his team have made a strong start. Secretary DeVos had to take on an educational system which believes its primary responsibility is to teachers’ unions, not students and families. The EPA’s staff believes its calling is to impose the climate alarmists’ agenda on working Americans.
Bureaucrats at the Department of Interior believe national parks and lands belong to environmental groups, not the American people. And the careerists at HUD believe the more people in subsidized housing the better. The president’s men and women have a lot of work to do.
But despite their good start, they can’t let down their guard. The president has given no sign of giving in. His appointees must demonstrate equal commitment.
For years the “usual suspects” in Washington have been taking America down the road to ruin, which is why the American people voted for Donald Trump. And it’s why they support him as he takes on the totalitarian left, federal bureaucracy, and mainstream media.
Restoring America won’t be easy. But the U.S. is back on the right road. The swamp is being drained and the serpents are being shipped out. America will be great again.
Ken Blackwell, former Secretary of State in Ohio, is the Senior Fellow for Family Empowerment at the Family Research Council. He serves on the board of directors of the Club for Growth and the National Taxpayers Union.