Breaking the Administrative State

Everyone who knows American history understands that what we are experiencing today was almost inevitable. The Russia-collusion hoax, Ukraine-gate, Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation circus, all of the non-stop, relentless attacks on Donald Trump and his administration from the day he was sworn in were bound to happen.

The political moment we are living through is not the usual one. This is more than the corporate leftist media and Democratic attacks to which we’ve become accustomed against any Republican, including the usual tripe about how Bush or (pick a name) is a Nazi and the election of said Republican signals the end of days. This with Trump is about so much more.

James Piereson described it best this week at a conference co-sponsored by American Greatness and The New Criterion: we’re used to domestic politics, where the discussions are over the size of tax cuts, etc. What we are seeing today is vicious regime politics and a struggle over who is really in charge of this country’s governmental agencies. The duly elected president of the United States? Or players inside of that administrative state, along with their mouthpieces in the media?

None of these absurd fairytales of collusion were ever really about actual suspicions that Trump was somehow tied to Putin. (Though certainly many Americans bought the story.) The breathless nonstop reporting by the corporate leftist media can be explained by one of two possible causes either they are too stupid to understand what is actually taking place (a perfectly reasonable argument) or they are part and parcel of the attempted regime change from the start.

This is all about who truly decides.

The only surprise is that we didn’t reach this moment sooner as a country. It took an outsider—someone not from Washington, D.C. and not from the ruling class—to be elected president.

Trump was never “read into” how it’s “all supposed to work,” how “things are done in D.C.” No, he had the temerity to show up and think that maybe, just maybe, we are still a democratic, constitutional republic in which power still flows from “We the People” to our president and other elected officials. In response to this sensible and very American view of things, the ruling class and administrative state emphatically said, “We don’t think so.”

A Constitutional Republic No More

It is becoming apparent that for many inside Washington, D.C., elections and the peaceful transfer of power are quaint notions of yesterday’s republic. Presidents, administrations, and their political appointees come and go but the permanent governing class remains. It’s not really that much of a surprise that they think they’re in charge, as for generations the administrative state has expanded and more and more power as been ceded to it and to them.

This didn’t just happen yesterday. We’ve arrived here by degrees.

The pivot away from America as a constitutional republic and into a country run as an administrative state began in the late 1800s, especially if one looks at Woodrow Wilson’s The Study of Administration, written in 1887. Wilson argued that politics should be kept separate from administration, though to be fair, administration shouldn’t completely ignore public opinion. But Wilson and other Progressives—Democrat and Republican alike—truly believed that efficient administration was a far better approach for “progress” than the sometimes messy, gridlock approach of the constitutional republic.

Wilson’s ideas, and other progressive fever dreams, would be given life in the first Progressive Era between 1895 and 1920, when the progressive ideology took firm root in both the Democratic and Republican parties. The administrative state was born and then firmly entrenched during Franklin Roosevelt’s administration with the New Deal. Progressives believed real progress could only occur if power is consolidated into an administrative state run by an educated cadre of bureaucrats who had as little interference from politicians as possible. They made the fatal mistake of entrusting great power to imperfect human beings, something the Founders, who knew men weren’t angels, wisely feared. Our Founders did not trust consolidated power in the hands of imperfect human nature, thus the machinery of our republic; separation of powers, federalism, and so on.

Only One Choice

The political torment we are experiencing today is, in many ways, the logical endgame to all of this.

There is an inherent tension between having an administrative state inside of a constitutional republic: the larger and more powerful that state becomes, the less likely it is to accept the restrictions placed upon it by republican institutions.

In fact, the two approaches to governing are completely incompatible. Even worse, those inside a powerful administrative state, much like the one we have today with over 430 departments, agencies and sub-agencies filled with millions of career employees, think that they are the decision makers on the domestic and foreign policy fronts. They believe they are entitled to rule us.

The question for us now as a country is, “Which direction are we going to go?” We really are at a crossroads. We cannot take the tension any longer: we must choose. Either we are governed by an administrative state that is not accountable to the political process spelled out by our Constitution or we return to the constitutional republic intended by the Founders. Fundamentally that is what all of this is about. The tension has broken into the open because Trump has forced the issue.

For those of us who believe in the original meaning of our Constitution, in limited government and natural rights, there is only one choice: break the state. Devolve it, not only in size, but also its purposes. Get it out of D.C.. Break its power base.

There can only be one winner in this struggle between Trump and the administrative state if we have any hopes for the republic surviving and that is the duly elected president of the United States who is the only one in this fight who represents the sovereign American people. If you think the state actors somehow are going to surrender, think again. Get ready for some more fireworks: the next year is going to be yet another bumpy, ugly ride.

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About Ned Ryun

Ned Ryun is a former presidential writer for George W. Bush and the founder and CEO of American Majority. You can find him on Twitter @nedryun.

Photo: Getty Images

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