The mainstream media (MSM) for some months has been mostly silent about the deep state (sometimes aka the administrative state) but nonetheless the amorphous, sinister jurisdiction has been busily plying its surreptitious influences to the dismay and frustration of the current administration.
Liberals and democrats (and Democrats) are reluctant, even loathe, to acknowledge the existence of a deep state, perhaps due to fears of being characterized as proto-conservative or conspiracy theorists. Recently, at the hearing for Acting Attorney Genera Matthew Whitaker, wide- and wild-eyed proto-conservatives such as Louis Gohmert (R-TX) and Jim Jordan (R-OH) took the opportunity to name names of DOJ and other federal officials as suspected deep state operatives to be shunned.
The actual existence of the deep state cannot be demonstrated by affirmative evidence; rather, it is a mystery that is for critics provable by negative inference. It cannot be located, for instance, on Google Maps or be found listed as a prime tourist resort on TripAdvisor. The American Automobile Association likewise offers no roadmap to guide a traveler.
Voxfairfax has undertaken a deep dive into material concerning the deep state, to unearth and peel back some of its mysteries.
The deep state is accused of frustrating and thwarting the enlightened policies of political leaders based upon loyalty to a different ideology or leader. Luminaries including Newt Gingrich and Iowa Congressman Steve King have spoken publicly about its nefarious activities. King noted the fact that Barack Obama remained in Washington, D.C. after Trump’s election as evidence of an anti-Trump fifth column led by the former President (recall accusations that he wiretapped Trump). Gingrich declared that “we’re up against a permanent bureaucracy intent on defending itself and quite willing to break the law in an effort to do so.”
Steve Bannon, whose Breitbart News regularly discussed the deep state’s existence, said at a CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) gathering that a central element of Trump’s presidency was “deconstruction of the administrative state.” Trump and his allies have decided to arm themselves with as wide a brush as possible to paint the broadest canvas of deep state trickery and organized effort against the administration’s policies and directions.
This view has condemned the entire Ninth Circuit and a federal judge of Mexican heritage as actors in the deep state. Many White House insiders have alleged methods of the deep state as the existence of intelligence leaks to politically motivated investigations. This effort is, of course, aided by the constant barrage of fake news from the media according to its theorists.
Animus toward the deep state likely explains the multi-decade campaign by proto-conservatives to wrest control of SCOTUS under a constrained judicial philosophy.
Legal historians trace the emergence of the deep state to the early 1940s in reaction to the dominance of FDR over the federal government and creation of a federal bureaucracy. That concern resulted in the Administrative Procedures Act which, over decades, has developed a jurisprudence that will vitiate an executive or agency action or policy if it is determined to be arbitrary, capricious, or lacking in substantial evidence; in lay terms this is often described as an abuse of discretion. This judicial rule has turned back the travel ban, regulatory rollbacks, and, now most recently, asylum bans and the inclusion of a citizenship question on the census.
In this latter case, a federal judge blocked the Commerce Department under Wilbur Ross from including the citizenship item, finding the process “flawed” and adding that, upon review of the administrative record, it “was an attempt to launder their request (to include the question) through another agency—that is, to obtain a cover for a decision that they (Commerce) had already made.” The Supreme Court has agreed to rule on this question in expedited fashion in April.
In another matter, the Interior Department of the now departed Ryan Zinke had a case reinstated where the Secretary had applied “vague cursory reasoning” to deny a casino permit to a Native American group asserting that the decision lacked appropriate evidentiary evaluation.
Most recently, Roger Stone published an image of the federal judge hearing the charges against him with cross hairs superimposed behind her. The text with the image referenced the deep state. In similar vein, Trump and many of his echo chamber acolytes have attempted to assign James Comey, Andrew McCabe, and Robert Mueller – all Republicans – to leadership roles in the deep state.
The reversals experienced by the Trump administration expose its change agenda as woefully inadequate. Moreover, these attempts also betray a lack of knowledge of and appreciation for governmental and legal processes necessary to implement and effect change. Thankfully, the deep state protects rational change processes and the population from arbitrary and capricious actions lacking substantial evidence. This dynamic is very much like what most of us follow in our personal lives. In this way, the deep state is us.