……In the 70’s I worked at the Alcohol and Drug Commission. My task was to establish treatment clinics around the province. Of all treatments for addiction, the 12-step AA approach and models based on that are the most successful and Detox units are a very valuable adjunct. If you read those last two sentences, you might be inclined to think that the Commission was focusing only on alcoholism but that is not so. The treatment centres were intended to handle the addicted afflicted by whatever was their drug-of-choice. Basically, the therapeutic community model is the one we were promoting.
But the conservative-bent Socred party would have none of it. They didn’t think any treatment fashioned on AA was needed. They hated the idea of a ‘community’ of addicts. They did not think alcohol was a problem, anyway. They wanted to ‘go after’ heroin addicts exclusively. And, when they got in power, they installed an ex-police officer at the head of the Commission and his instructions were, ‘Kill the AA-based programs. Develop treatment programs for addicts in prison. Then arrest them, force them into treatment and that will solve the problem. Oh, and while you are at it, get rid of all those liberal do-gooders that are currently employed by the Commission’.
Our new big chief decided to ‘purge’ the ranks of the staff by restricting their work to virtually nothing. We were told to be on time (or be reprimanded on record) and take our breaks and lunch precisely as told (or be on record) and leave but not a second before quitting time (or be on record). Anyone staying late would also be reprimanded (on the record). The writing was clear: they would document us in every way they could and use that documentation to fire us. And they would push us by not letting us DO anything. The perceived deep state (they thought anyone who didn’t believe as they did were NDP) was to become moribund and hog-tied so that they quit or could be fired.
I was a bit young to understand all that petty nonsense. I just tried to do my job. But, I was reprimanded a few times and I started to see the picture. In fact, I was so young and so ‘keen’ to do a good job, the new approach made me angry. One day, I walked into the ‘big cheese’s’ office and started to explain why some things needed doing. He almost taunted me.
Well, he did taunt me. And, all taunted up, I began to raise my voice, make strong statements and accused the cheese of destroying the Commissions’ credibility. After a few minutes of talking futility to an idiot, I was pretty annoyed and finally concluded with, “And I quit!”
His face instantly broke into a smirk. He had what he wanted. If I quit, he didn’t have to fire me by some sort of long drawn out, documented way. He was gloating…until….I added,
“Effective six months from now!”
Annoyed, he said, “Well, having an employee around that is clearly leaving is not good for morale so I will issue you severance for six months if you leave at the end of today.”
I took it.
And that is how ‘purging the deep state’ works. Firing people from government is NOT easy. One’s file has to be pretty thick with petty infractions to even come before a review board. Managers dread firing people because the process requires them to ‘document’ for a long, long time and gather a lot of information interspersed with all sorts of efforts on their part to ‘help the delinquent staff’. Firing is hard, boring work.
Trump is currently purging the ‘deep state’ from the veritable army of bureaucrats in the US civil service. There is NO deep state. There is a lot of dead wood but they are not the target. The target is those who ‘identify’ as Democrats. The target is those who have any semblance of influence (mid managers and up). The target is, essentially, anyone who is NOT a Yes-man to Trump or his appointees. Trump thinks they are NOT loyal and are thus resistant deep-staters.
And they are very likely NOT loyal. In fact, the good ones feel a loyalty to their oath and their job and make a point of being apolitical. The good ones feel a duty to their country, not necessarily whatever narcissist is in power. In that sense, ‘deep’ means non-partisan, law-abiding, do-gooders.
Trump would have you believe that there is a secret association of ‘deep’ seated/situated bureaucratic power-brokers resisting him. There is NOT. But there is very likely a large group of neutral bureaucrats struggling to keep the values and ethics they came in with when they were hired. They are trying to keep their oath.
If those people get purged, then the ‘loyalists’ and their appointees will infiltrate the bureaucracy just as Trump has done already with the Supreme Court. Purging the deep state means corrupting the bureaucracy and rewarding the swamp creatures. To Trump, purging the deep state means frequently firing and replacing the staff.
Is there any doubt about that?