Deep State: What Is It, and Do We Have One?

A “conspiracy of powerful, unelected bureaucrats secretly pursing their own agenda” is one definition of a deep state, according to Jon D. Michaels in Foreign Affairs. ( “Trump and the Deep State,” September/October 2017).

This type of nation does exist, says Michaels. As examples, he includes Egypt, Pakistan, and Turkey, “where shadowy elites in the military and government ministries have been known to countermand or simply defy democratic directives.”

The United States, Michaels points out, is operated much more transparently than the countries mentioned above.

That is why President Trump complains so much about the established news media. Freedom of the press is not some slogan spouted by politicians. It’s been ingrained in our national fabric since before the American Revolution.

When I applied for and eventually was accepted into the U.S. Foreign Service, I had to pass both written and oral exams. Nothing on the exams concerned my political persuasions or my voting record.

My class of Foreign Service officers included various ages and educational levels and previous occupational experience. The dedication, especially of the younger members, impressed me. None of us came in because of who we knew. None of us were political appointees.

The U.S. government is run by and large by mid-level bureaucrats, more of whom live outside Washington than in. These mid-level workers are not appointed by some presidential cabal or political party. They are hired over the years based on professional merit. They run the government and remain through various administrations.

Writes Michaels: “U.S. administrative fragmentation makes it hard for things to get done—but it also makes the notion of a coordinated, secret conspiracy by multiple state actors laughable.”

4 thoughts on “Deep State: What Is It, and Do We Have One?

  1. Neva Corbin

    I always laugh when people talk about conspiracy and the Federal Reserve Bank. The people I worked with are highly qualified, dedicated, and are not political appointees. Conspiracy? Heck! It would have to go through so many feasibility studies and committees and layers of vetting, it would never be executed.

    Reply
    1. Ann Gaylia O'Barr Post author

      Lots of experienced men and women are trying to decide if they could be of more value by resigning and going to work for nonprofits. Maybe–but that leaves a lot of the junior people without mentors. That’s one of the tragedies.

      Reply

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