Depending on your politics, you either think the “deep state” is a sinister cabal of unelected career bureaucrats trying to undermine a duly-elected president or a laughable conspiracy theory cooked up by President Trump and his supporters. There’s not much middle ground.
But if you’re the New York Times’ Michelle Cottle, you manage a neat trick: to believe the deep state is both real and great. It’s actually made up of courageous heroes, you see, who deserve our gratitude. Cottle calls the deep state “a collection of patriotic public servants — career diplomats, scientists, intelligence officers and others — who, from within the bowels of this corrupt and corrupting administration, have somehow remembered that their duty is to protect the interests, not of a particular leader, but of the American people.”
Specifically, Cottle is thinking of the career bureaucrats now cooperating with the Democratic-controlled House’s ongoing impeachment charade. There’s Fiona Hill, the president’s former top Russia advisor, Michael McKinley, a former advisor to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and of course the anonymous anti-Trump whistleblower, who illegally colluded with the office of Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff prior to filing his complaint. Cottle would have us believe the motives of these unelected bureaucrats are pure. “Their aim was not to bring down Mr. Trump out of personal or political animus but to rescue the Republic from his excesses.”
Maybe, maybe not. To date, no one knows exactly what Hill and McKinley have shared with House impeachment investigators because Schiff is conducting his entire inquiry behind closed doors. Nor has Schiff brought the whistleblower forward to testify about what he knows, having abruptly changed his mind about that once it became clear that doing so would destroy the whistleblower’s credibility and effectively end the impeachment inquiry.
We Don’t Need Unelected Bureaucrats To Protect Our Interests
But the individual players here matter less than the role such people are supposed to play in the life of the Republic. Simply put, the American people never asked these public servants to protect their interests. In fact, a great many Americans who elected Trump did so specifically because they were fed up with unelected bureaucrats acting like unaccountable rulers—rather like a deep state, actually.
More to the point, “protecting the interests of the American people” isn’t the job of these public servants. They have other, rather specific jobs. The job of career officials in the intelligence agencies, for example, is to provide the White House with intelligence relevant to national security. That’s it. They have no other role to play in public life, and for good reason. Appointed and unelected officials are supposed to serve those who were put in office by the people, from whom elected officials derive their authority. That’s how a republic is supposed to work.
But lately it seems our unelected officials think of themselves less as public servants and more as a Praetorian Guard. After more than two years of the Mueller probe and the Russia collusion hoax, Americans got a pretty clear picture of an extremely politicized intelligence community run amok. Who can forget disgraced former FBI agent Peter Strzok, whose anti-Trump text messages with former FBI lawyer Lisa Page revealed shocking bias against Trump during the 2016 election—right when Strzok was investigating the Trump campaign for possible collusion with Russia? Does anyone really think Strzok was simply an unbiased patriot free from political motives?
Same goes for the entire cast of characters involved in the Russia collusion hoax. There’s former FBI director James Comey, who infamously leaked memos of his conversations with President Trump in hopes of triggering the Mueller probe, violating numerous FBI policies in the process. There’s former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who leaked the infamous Steele dossier to CNN and then lied to Congress about it. There’s former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, who is under investigation for repeatedly lying to the FBI’s inspector general about his actions during the Russia investigation.
The idea that these people are pure-hearted patriots is laughable. On the contrary, there’s plenty of reason to suspect that what Comey and the others were up to was a coordinated, premeditated effort to remove a duly elected president whom they despised. There’s likewise plenty of reason to believe the impeachment effort directed by Schiff is simply an extension of this same ploy under a new pretext. The Mueller probe didn’t work out for them, so now we have an anonymous whistleblower complaint and secret testimony from a different set of unelected career bureaucrats who might well have similarly biased motives for cooperating with impeachment investigators.
But to liberals like Cottle, the deep state isn’t a sinister force working to undermine our democracy, it’s a benign force working to undermine our democracy. Why would she want the deep state to do that? Because we the people have, by electing Donald Trump, proven ourselves incapable of governing ourselves. We can’t be trusted with such a momentous responsibility, and so we should defer to the expert careers officials who know better. This is really the ultimate aim of left-wing ideologues: to protect the people from themselves and look out for their best interests, whether they like it or not.