Skip to comments.In Washington, Conservatives Are Never Really ‘In Power’
Posted on 07/03/2009 10:19:09 AM PDT by AJKauf
I came to Washington in 2001 to take a career job at the Department of Justice after spending many years in the private sector. I thought I could make a small difference in my particular corner of the executive branch, just like Jimmy Stewarts character did in Frank Capras Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, one of my favorite movies. After I arrived in Washington, I developed a circle of conservative friends (both career employees and political appointees) who work in other federal departments. We all shared the same frustrations at the inability to get liberal policies changed in the government. Our experiences illustrate some of the reasons that the liberal course of the government did not change during the prior administration, and may never change.
First, most people do not understand the sheer magnitude of the executive branch. There are almost 3 million federal employees, 99 percent of whom are career civil servants over whom the president has virtually no authority. Seventeen states have fewer citizens than the federal government has bureaucrats. There are only a few thousand positions within the federal government that are subject to noncompetitive appointment, i.e., positions that the president can fill through political patronage. Among these are 1,137 positions that can be filled by presidential appointment with Senate confirmation; 320 positions subject to presidential appointment without confirmation; and 701 positions in the Senior Executive Service (the top level of managers within the federal ranks) that can be filled by non-career appointments.
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Our unelected government. People like Jamie Gorelick who have far too much power and no real accountability.
The bureaucracy doesn’t really care who thinks they are in power as long as they, the bureaucracy continues to hold on to theirs. Ain’t Civil Service Grand. Now, 0bambi is actively showing leadership with control in both houses he feels safe in firing every government conservative he can find. This will work if he keeps feeding the right bureaucratic pigs, but if he steps on the wrong toes bureaucracy will bite him like a hungry allegator. There was a great validity in the spoils system it was kind of a term limit thing.
I’ve been in academia, so I know the feeling. When you have maybe 1 conservative for every 15 liberals, you are outnumbered. And there are limits to what can be accomplished quietly.
Also, I suspect it’s illusory to think that there is some impartial merit system that admits people to the bottom rungs of this bureaucracy. In the first place, there are networks of friends and influential people, and they push their friends and like-thinking people into jobs. A few conservatives manage to get through the net, but they find promotion difficult and colleagues often uncooperative.
Plus, the Democrats are a lot more determined to clean out as many enemies as they can get their hands on, whereas Republicans like Bush seem willing to just let things go.
Clinton cleaned out the FBI director and all the US attorneys early in his career, when he needed to take control. Bush acted late, and Mueller might just as well have been appointed by the Democrats from the way he has acted. The same with Gates.
It’s hard to see how anything can be done unless and until the culture is changed. With most university graduates slanted toward the left, and liberals more eager than conservatives to get into government, only a change in the supply of graduates can effect major change.
And I don’t see how that can be done, with the liberals holding all the levers of power, short of something like a Great Awakening. Marriage renewed, morality restored, common sense brought back: nothing less than a religious revival can accomplish that.
So, we do what we can. But we need divine intervention at this point, IMHO. And real religious revivals among blacks and Hispanics are needed, too.
I have a solution. Move the power center away from Washington. Downsize the Federal Government, and force the Congresss and Senate to tele commute to work. Live in their district and actually represent those who they work for.
Can you imagine what this would do? Less sell-outs of taxpayers.
Allow the Federal government to only have the power specifically given to them by the Constitution. Nothing more.
>Allow the Federal government to only have the power specifically given to them by the Constitution. Nothing more.
That is essential. Very much so.
In the early ‘90’s a friend of mine who was at the time a federal law enforcement officer told me the federal bureaucracy was out of control. He further said that the elected and appointed officials are considered by the career “bureaucrats” as simply a small fly in the ointment.
The federal bureaucracy is filled with people who have nothing to gain by “smaller government”.
The example that infuriates me most is in immigration. For many years, regardless of what party is in the White House, immigration has favored people who they thought would vote democratic. Let thousands of “ignorants” into the country and make it very difficult for intelligent well educated people who might vote conservative has been the standard procedure.
I’ve been wondering about this too. It sounds like a good idea to me, along with term limits.
Not since Ronald Reagan has any leading Republican candidate even spoke of shutting down a bureaucracy. Ronald was betrayed by Bill Bennett in his attempt to shut down the dept of education, James Watt resigned when the media attack dogs were loosed on him and the GOP stood by and snickered. The last real successful attempt was spearheaded by Howard Phillips during the Nixon administration, but Phillips resigned when Nixon reneged on his promise to veto spending on the “great society”. The GOP has been and continues to fail backing up their small government rhetoric. At the first offer of personal power, they cowardly become beltway insiders and cast off their conservative ideals in order to become part of the ruling class of career legislators.
Actually, taking control of a bureaucracy is not that difficult— if you are willing to take the heat. The first step is to make clear how the organization will operate. Next, start to implement the necessary changes. When the bureaucracy rebells, people need to start losing their jobs. Insubordination is actually one of the easiest justifications for dismissing someone. When middle managers refuse to do their jobs, the case is made. (I worked for a fellow once who liked to say “a good symbolic firing every so often goes a long way toward getting control of an organization.”) Removing career bureaucrats will destroy the morale of the others, but it will get their attention. Unfortunately, your pool of replacements will be just as screwed up, and most people will opt for the easy way out— do what you can and ignore the rest...
Ronald Reagan campaigned on undoing Department of Education and 55 mph speed limit, he got one of those. If Reagan couldn't do it, where do we go from there?
I remember well the floor fight at the convention, that Reagan finally ended when he anointed his opponent as VP. Whomever forced Reagan to do that, is the real power.
Whole departments could be eliminated by proposing that their budgets be passed directly to the states. Even the NEA would have to support closing down the Dept of Education if it meant schools would have $2000 more per pupil to spend in the classroom. Same for the Dept of Agriculture.
The unemployment rate in the DC area would skyrocket. The laid off civil servants would have to move away from DC to get a real job and as a result would lower real estate prices in DC, which would justify pay cuts for those who stayed in DC thus further reducing federal spending.
Obama has gone into extreme Marxist territory. The next conservative President should do the same but in the other direction to restore the government to the constitution. There is no use to trying to negotiate with the breaucrats. They just need to be axed - chunks at a time.
This is not a new idea, I first advocated it to a Pol I knew when I lived in Oklahoma City almost 15 years ago.
It was technologically possible then, but would be a piece of cake now.
Centralized planning with huge organizations NEVER work.
We need to tell DC that they are simply Not Worth what they Cost US.
I appreciate this article for throwing light on a dark subject. Thank you!