The Hidden Enemy Now Stares Us in the Face

August 12, 2022 Updated: August 16, 2022

Commentary

The most bizarre feature of the raid on former President Donald Trump’s home wasn’t its incredible invasiveness. It was how several days went by before anyone was willing to take responsibility for it. All inquiries to the White House were met with hand waves and shoulder shrugs. The FBI wouldn’t comment. All we had were leaks and speculation.

The administration knew nothing about it, it said, and would instead defer to whatever the Department of Justice said and did. Somehow, in the White House ethos of our time, letting the deep machinery of the state run roughshod is seen as responsible governing.

It was only after public uproar without precedent that the head of the FBI, Attorney General Merrick Garland—famously deferential to regulatory agencies and the administrative state generally—acknowledged that he personally signed off on the order. He’s a political appointee of the Biden White House. It’s hard to imagine that he would have done so without telling the president or his staff, but maybe plausible deniability among this crowd comes at a premium.

Now that the warrant has been released, the public will have the opportunity to assess the evidence. All this seems to be forced by public pressure. One way or another, we’ll get closer to the truth.

With good reason, vast numbers of people doubt that this move will be the same as all the others: not really the exercise of law enforcement, but rather the state deployed against political enemies.

All this provides a focus on what has become the main issue in American life today. Is this a constitutional republic with a government by the people that rules with transparency and complies with the rule of law? Or do we have a system in which the administrative state has essentially gone rogue, believing itself to have powers that are higher than that of any elected officeholder and exercising them with brutality and without oversight?

And by the administrative state, we don’t just mean the deep bureaucracy of the FBI or the DOJ. It’s also inclusive of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health, which were granted free reign over the entire country, managing somehow to festoon every public business in the United States with plexiglass, to slap masks on all our faces, to close schools and even churches, and even, for a time, to limit cross-state travel.

Only on Aug. 11 did the CDC finally relent with a convoluted and impenetrable paper that pulled back on its “recommendations” that the unvaccinated be treated unequally in employment and public spaces. This is because, it concedes, vaccine immunity wanes, and most of the public has natural immunity anyway. Meanwhile, people have lost careers and livelihoods. The CDC has also said there’s no need to test people without symptoms.

Also, good news: Mere exposure should no longer trigger a 10-day quarantine. Thank you. All you scrupulous compliers and mysophobic paranoids can finally leave your homes after two and a half years. It’s nothing short of grotesque that the CDC ever had the power to push such policies and even more appalling that someone such as Dr. Deborah Birx has bragged about having defied the whole Trump administration.

The CDC admits no prior errors. As the protocol demands today, all changes in regime demands are justified on the grounds that “we have new tools” or that the “science has changed” or some other malarkey. Not a word in this new document is somehow justified now but not two and a half years ago. One even senses that the authors of the CDC advisory took great pains to avoid language from the Great Barrington Declaration, even if the upshot runs in the same trajectory of advice.

When a Florida judge struck down the CDC’s nationwide mask mandate on transportation as unlawful, the response from the deep-state actors controlling the Biden administration was that this wouldn’t stand simply because it isn’t the place of a court to reject the edicts of a federal bureaucracy. The appeal is still in process. This is how these people think: They want nothing short of dictatorship.

Two weeks before the 2020 election, Trump issued an executive order, which I count as among the most innovative in decades, if not in a century. It demanded that every agency revisit its personnel roster and classify in a new way every position that deals with policy. They would henceforth become Schedule F employees and therefore accountable to the president. They would face an at-will employment contract. Repealing this executive order was among the first actions of the Biden administration.

I first wrote about this extraordinary move by Trump in June. It wasn’t until last week that I came to understand the details about how it came about. The genius behind the move was the White House assistant who specialized in labor relations in the civil service. His name is James Sherk and he’s now a scholar at the America First Policy Institute. His article in The Wall Street Journal explains the background. Referencing several high-profile cases of bureaucratic incompetence and intransigence, he writes:

“Career employees get away with this behavior largely because they have extensive removal protections. While it isn’t impossible to fire federal employees, it is difficult, uncertain and time-consuming. Schedule F was developed to address this widespread misconduct and prevent its recurrence. We found a way for agencies to hold intransigent bureaucrats accountable. Schedule F would have made—and might still make—senior policy-influencing bureaucrats at-will employees. The order didn’t let agencies dismiss them for political reasons, but it enabled agencies to remove senior employees swiftly for poor performance or policy resistance.”

Sherk is also the author of one of the most damning and shocking personal accounts of life in government today that you’ll ever read. You can find it on the website of the institute for which he works. It’s called “Tales From the Swamp.” I wish that every American would read it.

It tells the grim reality of government today. It reveals how Trump never stood a chance against the beast he tried to slay. The document shows you who’s in charge, and it isn’t the elected representatives, much less the people. It’s the permanent bureaucracy. This is what rules this country. The politicians make promises in earnest, but they have no chance at all to implement their vision. A careful read of Sherk’s long exposé reveals that most of what passes for American politics is pure theater.

Can something be done about this? Schedule F is a good start. For discovering, naming, and trying to slay the enemy, the administrative state has gone all-in on crushing not only Trump, but also any elected official or candidate for office who defends Schedule F. So far as the swamp is concerned, this is about its own survival. There are no lengths to which it will not go to assure that. It really is a turning point.

The beauty of our times is that now we know. The enemy has shown its face. We’ve also all surely lost whatever political naiveté that we once had. It’s going to take far, far more than electing politicians with a good slogan to make the changes we need and get back to a constitutional government.

Knowing what we know now, we surely have a better sense of the necessary solutions. The Republicans, if they have any real principles and commitments, need to be fully united on the need truly to drain the swamp—not just as a slogan, but as a focused agenda.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Jeffrey A. Tucker is the founder and president of the Brownstone Institute, and the author of many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press, as well as 10 books in five languages, most recently “Liberty or Lockdown.” He is also the editor of The Best of Mises. He writes a daily column on economics for The Epoch Times and speaks widely on the topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.