A comment on Facebook post started a thought in my poorly educated Mississippi brain and this is what came out. I wrote a post yesterday about how futile it seems to expect elected officials to control government (much less shrink it) because the elected portion if our government is dwarfed in both population and real power by the administrative state, the entrenched bureaucracy that lives on regardless of which party wins elections.
Think of it in these terms – Americans elect 1 president and 1 vice president, 100 Senators and 435 Representatives to federal service on our behalf, that totals 537 elected officials. In 2015, the federal government employed 2.79 million civil servants, many in senior positions with greater regulatory and enforcement power than any branch of the elected government. A mid-level bureaucrat in the EPA has more direct power over the daily lives of regular citizens than any Congressional committee and most certainly any more than any elected individual in Congress.
Now add to those facts that there is a political movement in both parties that supports more government – the Democrats are 100% steeped in the progressivism of Wilson and FDR and even a significant percentage of the GOP are adherents of the progressivism of Teddy Roosevelt – and you can see that there is a very small percentage of the elected government who want smaller government.
People want to term limit Congress to a few terms – let’s say 5 two year terms in the House and 2 in the Senate. The President is already limited to 2 terms – so that’s 10, 12 and 8 years respectively. The Office of Personnel Management (federal government agency) records the average seniority of a civilian federal worker at 13.7 years. Slightly over half have a undergraduate degree. There is also a category called the Senior Executive Service (SES) – people who serve in the key positions just below the top Presidential appointees – where the average length of federal service is 23.4 years. The administrative state is filled with people who understand how to work the levers of Leviathan. Even without term limits, the elected branches of government are transient – the bureaucracy is forever.
Based on these facts, just who do you suppose truly runs government?
I have guesstimated that our elected officials have maybe, on a good day, control over 30% of the operation of the government Leviathan. It may be far less. There were three co-equal branches of government established by the U.S. Constitution, to combat the checks and balances provided in that document, a progressive movement started by the Constitution hating Woodrow Wilson, expanded by FDR and added to by every successive progressive official, created a powerful, unelected, unchecked fourth branch, the bureaucracy (often referred to as the administrative or deep state).
There is such a feeling of helplessness in America when it comes to dealing with the deep state. People have come to believe that nothing can be done about bad government, so they just accept it and just factor that in their daily lives. This is different from the old “boiling frog” analogy because in that scenario, the frog doesn’t realize he is getting poached. Americans do realize what is happening to them, they just don’t believe they can do anything about it, so a great percentage just vote for the progressive candidate from either party and hope to get their little slice of the pie.
- Higher taxes – oh, well…
- Wasteful programs that don’t work – that’s just the way government works, right?
- Crappy elected officials – hey, politicians suck, what do you expect?
Put that in the context of a system built by corrupt people to protect their corruption and it does seem insurmountable. The system is resistant to incremental change – it laughs it off. But that is how it has come to be designed – the deep state is impervious to attack from elected officials. Thinking that elected officials opposed to it will be successful is like believing that putting a Band-Aid on a sucking chest wound will heal the patient.
Hillary Clinton will make it worse. Trump might have some superficial impact. If we do not address the power of the forth branch of government, Leviathan will continue to grow and elections will have less and less meaning. Changing government requires changing ALL of government and it appears the only way to change it is to rip it out by the roots as prescribed in the Declaration of Independence.