The article argues that proposals by some Republicans like Trump and DeSantis to exert more political control over federal bureaucracies and reduce civil service protections represent a concerning move toward authoritarianism that could undermine faith in democracy. The author implies these proposals are akin to “purges” of expertise under authoritarian regimes and driven by a distrust of professionalism and nonpartisan competency in government. By framing bureaucrats as the “deep state”, these politicians attack the independence of agencies and aim to entrench partisan power over key institutions that should remain insulated.
“I can’t overstate my level of concern about the damage this would do.”
Of the many targets Donald Trump has attacked over the years, few engender less public sympathy than the career workforce of the federal government—the faceless mass of civil servants that the former president and his allies deride as the “deep state.”
Federal employees have long been an easy mark for politicians of both parties, who occasionally hail their nonpartisan public service but far more frequently blame “Washington bureaucrats” for stifling your business, auditing your taxes, and taking too long to renew your passport. Denigrating the government’s performance is a tradition as old as the republic, but Trump assigned these shortcomings a sinister new motive, accusing the civilian workforce of thwarting his agenda before he even took office.