“I will totally obliterate the deep state.”

That is, depending upon your point of view, either a threat or a promise from Donald Trump. He said it early and often in his campaigns for President and even took steps to do so as his term wound down.

With a name like deep state, it does sound pretty ominous: It calls to mind rogue intelligence officers roaming back alleys  with unfathomable powers and resources, executing nefarious missions with their particular sets of skills.

That kind of is the deep state in a regime for which Donald Trump has shown lots of affection and admiration.

But the deep state of Trump’s imagination goes well beyond the practitioners of the dark arts of espionage. He presents the American public servant as Public Enemy Number 1 and encourages his supporters to do so.

The New York Times last month published an opinion video that exposes the shadowy world of deep state actors and finds that world not so shadowy after all. The closest any of them come to the netherworld of spycraft is probably a Bourne binge.

Titled “It Turns Out the Deep State is Actually Kind of Awesome,” the video visits Scott Bellamy at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Atlanta, Georgia, where he is a Star Trek fan and a Missions Manager in the Planetary Missions Program Office, and where he managed a mission to redirect an asteroid away from its path toward Earth by blasting it with a rocket; Radhika Fox, a Swiftie and an assistant administrator for water at the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C, who led an operation to make water in the U.S. lead free in ten years; and Nancy Alcantara, Latin dance fan and acting director of enforcement in the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor, in Chicago, Illinois, who works to end child labor in dangerous slaughterhouses.

If reelected, Trump has vowed to reinstate Schedule F, the executive order he issued at the end of his term that was reversed early in the Biden administration. The order would reclassify a vast number of government workers to make them exempt from the hiring and firing practices of the Civil Service. It would allow Trump to fire pretty much any bureaucrat the President wants to, and replace them with individuals loyal to him and his worldview. It would, indeed, obliterate the deep state, even though Trump supporters, like all Americans, benefit from the efforts of those deep state “operatives.”

As the Times video shows, the deep state is simply the government doing what we, collectively, have empowered it to do: keep our planet safe from interstellar debris; get lead out of our drinking water; and let children have childhoods.

Public service and public servants are everywhere—they drive our children to school, they teach our children, they pave our roads, they maintain the parks, they process benefits for veterans and the elderly, they process the tax forms some of us filed this week, they make sure our meat and vegetables are safe to eat—the list goes on and on. They support us in ways we often cannot see. And they deserve our support.

Jeff Hagan
Communications Director


IMAGE: Screen shot of New York Times Opinion Video

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