When I first heard “The Deep State” mentioned, it caught my attention. The possible implications of the term were many. Former senior analyst for Congress, Mike Lofgren had discussed it on Bill Moyers’ website, posted in 2014. As I mentioned in a 2018 blog post, “The Deeper Deep State,” Lofgren was apparently the first to use the term.
His last sixteen years working for Congress as a senior analyst on the House and Senate Budget committees gave Lofgren a clear view of the federal government from the inside. The essay and interview with Bill Moyers evolved into a book, titled The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government, published in 2016. That was all before the extreme right Trumpists appropriated the term to attack all but the most authoritarian elements within the federal government that support Trump.
But now, we find ourselves confronted by a rogue president and a new shadow government consisting of Trump’s anti-government anti-regulation corporatist political appointees. These corporatist ideologues are bent on destroying the departments and programs they “administer,” which were designed to protect the American people from the fraud, abuse, and ecological and climate devastation caused by an unbridled corporate elite. Trump has turned the entire executive branch into a collection of agents used to support and enhance his financial and political power, not the interests of the American people.
So, first, let us give a cheer for the career foreign service officers who just could not stomach any more of Rudy Giuliani and his private foreign-policy operations designed to support Trump’s political power. Giuliani brazenly worked to secure business profits in Ukraine by leveraging his role as Trump’s “personal lawyer.” As the president’s shadow “diplomat,” he attempted to exploit Ukraine’s desperate need for the military aid Congress had authorized to fight off the Russian invasion. He was a key player in attempting to extort the Ukraine president to start a bogus “investigation” of Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, to bolster Trump’s chances at re-election. The real American diplomats came forward and testified to the House impeachment investigators how the President and his agents had tried to extort Ukraine’s president to damage the man Trump felt was the main threat to his re-election.
A second cheer goes out to those clandestine forces of the CIA and Delta Force operators who executed their mission despite the disruption of their plans by Trump’s petulant subservience to Turkey’s dictator in betraying the heroic Kurds, who have done most and suffered the most to defeat ISIS. The operation to take out Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the ISIS founder and murderous leader, had been in the works for quite a while. But it was disrupted by Trump’s order to move American troops out of Syria to allow Turkey’s dictator, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to invade northern Syria and drive out and kill our allies, the Kurds. Whether we agree or not on the various uses of clandestine forces to execute American foreign policy, these dedicated warriors risk their lives to do their job on a daily basis. To Trump, they are mere pawns to bolster his ego.
The third cheer is earned by the U.S. federal court judges who, despite some being Trump appointees, could just not tolerate Trump’s attempts to trample the Constitution by fighting against the separation of powers and the constitutional duty of the Congress to pursue an impeachment investigation when the House of Representatives deemed it necessary. That is their duty and right, just as is the duty of congressional oversight of the administration, which Trump has obstructed from the beginning.
Diverse members of the institutional matrix of the federal government have resisted Trump’s depraved trampling of the Constitution. While we must recognize the dangers inherent in the deep state as Mike Lofgren described them, there is also a great benefit in having a stable institutional structure in the federal government capable of resisting the dictatorial delusions of a rogue president. The three areas of conflict between the Constitution and this president mentioned above, demonstrate that the viability of our democracy and the constitutional checks and balances the founders so wisely created are only as secure as the commitments of patriots to uphold them against rogue attempts to subvert them. In this context at least, three cheers for the Deep State.