Dawn Of The Deep State: How James Garfield’s Assassination Spawned This Monster

Source: Issues & Insights.

When I think of the deep state I tend to think of the intelligence community, but the term can just as plausibly refer to the civil service or more broadly to the bureaucratic infrastructures of government.

The brief essay at the source makes the point that, “The Pendleton Act [which created the modern civil service system] was conceived by reformers who disliked politics because they distrusted democracy.” I’m sure there was more to it than that, but the claim raises interesting questions. For example, if one’s aim is to preserve democracy, isn’t it necessary for government to remain small?

A corollary question: Wasn’t the spoils system that existed prior to the civil service more democratic in its way than the system which replaced it?

7 thoughts on “Dawn Of The Deep State: How James Garfield’s Assassination Spawned This Monster

  1. “I’m sure there was more to it than that . . .”
    Ya think?

    I think we can be thankful for the “deep state” and the civil service protections that we have put in place to protect them from partisan hackery. Not only does government need the continuity it provides, but just imagine where we would be now if Donald Trump had been able to staff it from top to bottom with the sort of loyalists, incompetents, yes men, and hacks that he favors. Instead of blocking his efforts to overthrow the election, the DOJ would have helped him with AG Jeffrey Clark leading the way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. RE: “just imagine where we would be now if Donald Trump had been able to staff it from top to bottom with the sort of loyalists, incompetents, yes men, and hacks that he favors.”

      I imagine we’d be where we wanted to be as a result of democracy.

      Like

      1. “I imagine we’d be where we wanted to be as a result of democracy.”

        Really? Have you thought that through? Who won the 2020 election decisively? Here is a hint. Contrary to what you probably believe, it was not Donald Trump.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. As bad as the spoils system may have been, it did serve to flush the bureaucracy periodically.

    We need that function, without the spoils system. Perhaps an emplyess reevauation every 6 years or so where they would have to justify their continued employment.

    Like

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