It's Virtually Washington

An Election Entertainment from The Humours of an Election series, 1755 by William Hogarth. Public Domain.

They say that not much is getting done in Washington these days. The reason allegedly has to do with how partisan everything has become. That may be true in the legislature. Over in the Executive Branch bureaucracies a whole lot is getting done, precisely because everything is so partisan. And we need to make it stop.


Imagine holding a series of meetings at the IRS. Twenty or thirty people are brought together with the aim of forming a task force to look into abuses of the 501(c)(4) tax exemption by groups engaging in political activity. The first task is to figure out how to even identify such groups in the mountain of applications that the IRS receives every week.

By the second meeting, there are some ideas. Such groups can be identified by looking for terms such as “tea party” and “patriot” in their names.

We all know how well this effort went. The next thing anyone knew, Catherine Englebrecht was up there testifying under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee, relating how virtually every federal agency with police powers — including the IRS, the BATF, and OSHA — descended on her, her husband, and their manufacturing company in Texas. The FBI even conducted six domestic terrorism inquiries. In the decades they had been in business, they had never heard from any of these people. And then she became politically active and filed applications for tax exemption for two groups called True the Vote and King Street Patriots.

It would be comforting to believe that all of this inter-agency harassment of a member of the public was orchestrated by an elected official, or at least by one of the “politicals” appointed to an agency leadership position by the Administration. But there’s no evidence of that. By all accounts, this was entirely the work of our esteemed “career professionals,” the supposedly apolitical civil servants who carry out policy as directed by elected officials.


How does a meeting among a dozen or more people take place at the IRS where terms like “tea party” and “patriot” are agreed to denote The Bad Guys, and no one in the room objects? No one says, “We can’t do this. This is Nixon stuff.” Instead they all head out to do a bang-up job in the belief that they are truly fightin’ crime.

Down the road at the DOJ, some more of our career professionals — this time members of the Senior Executive Service — are discussing how they might use the 25th Amendment to engineer the removal of the recently-elected Republican President. It is suggested that the most senior among them, the one who gets summoned to meetings at the White House, wear a wire in his dealings with the President. Again, these are career DOJ people… civil servants who came up through the ranks.

I’m sorry, but it no longer makes sense — and in fact it is no longer even safe — to permit so much of the headquarters staff of our government agencies to be drawn exclusively from one of the most partisan Democratic areas of the country. We don’t even need this anymore… every company and every government agency is using ‘virtual meeting’ technologies to assemble people from all around the country into task forces and group efforts of every kind.


The two agencies mentioned here — IRS and DOJ — are already spread out all over the country in field offices, district offices, U.S. Attorneys’ offices, etc. We do need the cabinet-level officials and their immediate staffs in DC for access to the White House and Congress, but most of the rest could be moved out to where the labor pool isn’t seventy per cent partisan Democrat.

That way, the next time a Lois Lerner type organizes a task force and the suggestion is made that we can identify the Bad Guys with terms like “tea party,” there might actually be a tea party member in the meeting to call shenanigans.


And the next time somebody in the CIA thinks that Republicans are by nature suspicious enough that we need to send our friends in the UK and Italy to spy on them, not everyone present will be inclined to agree.

If we don’t decentralize these headquarters bureaucracies, this is going to get worse. We just came thissssssClose to having quite ordinary workaday members of one political party use their official positions, and the powers of their agencies, to up-end a presidential election in order to favor their own politics. If you ask them why they did such a thing, they’ll tell you they were saving the country from evil.


They believe it, too. That’s because there are too many of them, and not enough of anybody else.


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