The New Mandarins of the Deep State

This article first appeared at The Orange County Register.

The shocking defeat of GOP Senator hopeful Roy Moore may not spell the end of Trumpism, but you can see it from there. The president’s unconventional peasant rebellion has now reached its high-water market, with a countervailing tide threatening to inundate an increasingly vulnerable GOP.

One good piece of news: the once common hysteria about Trump as a new authoritarian threat should start to recede. Constitutional limits, such as elections, tend to undermine even the savviest would-be dictators, and Trump is far from that. His endorsement of Moore, uncontrolled tweeting, and otherwise un-presidential behavior likely has squandered any a promising chance for using a robust economy to expand his base. The GOP Goldman Sachs-crafted tax plan, whatever its long-range impact, likely will offer little encouragement to the working and middle-class voters who have supported him.

Trump: Manna from Heaven for bureaucracy

Trump’s incompetence has turned out to be the gift that keeps giving to the growing mandarin class who dominate much of the upper bureaucracy, media, academia and increasingly the corporate world. With the feared Trumpian Reich already collapsing, we may see the revival of another subtler form of authoritarianism, this time from the re-empowered progressive establishment.

In contrast with Trump’s assertive know nothingism, our long entrenched expert class — behind so many miscalls from peak oil and dietary advice to Syria and the Soviet Union — seems a bit more credible. Instead of “draining the swamp,” Trump has managed to unite all the elements of the so-called “deep state” including both predictable big government progressives with historically conservative agencies like the FBI and most of the national security apparatus.

The establishment opposition, defined by undermining leaks and a relentless Russian prosecution, suggests that Trump’s aggrieved sense of persecution appears at the same time both petty but not totally delusional. “It’s no mystery why Trump doesn’t trust U.S. intelligence agencies,” as long-time national security reporter Eli Lake put it. “As the old saying goes: Just because your paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. Trump understandably believes the intelligence agencies are out to get him.”

Read the entire piece at The Orange County Register.

Homepage photo credit: Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America (Donald Trump) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons