The One Thing Trump Must Get Right

The One Thing Trump Must Get Right, by Roger Kimball.

Trump has filled all his key cabinet posts and has, moreover, filled them with people very unlike the dramatis personae of recently past cabinets. Trump’s cabinet is manned not by political apparatchiks, think-tank denizens, or academics. It is manned by successful — the most successful — businessmen, entrepreneurs, and military men, people whose chief aim will not be to “protect their turf” and coddle the bureaucracy under their charge but rather to get the nation’s business done as efficiently as possible. …

On March 13, the Trump administration released an Executive Order calling for a “Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch.”  It directs the head of the Office of Management and Budget to “propose a plan to reorganize governmental functions and eliminate unnecessary agencies  . . .  components of agencies, and agency programs.”

The document is quite specific. Within 180 days, the Director of the OMB is charged with submitting a plan “to reorganize the executive branch in order to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of agencies.” Moreover, this is no mere shell game, where Department A is renamed Department B and given new offices, a larger staff, and a more lavish budget on the other side of the Potomac.  No, the Executive Order calls for eliminating “unnecessary agencies, components of agencies, and agency programs, and to merge functions.”

The bureaucracy is the main engine behind progressivism and PC:

Readers of Quadrant will be familiar with Tocqueville’s famous passages about the character and operation of “democratic despotism” in modern societies. It operates, said Tocqueville, not like despotisms of yore: instead of tyrannizing over man, it infantilizes him.  And it does this by the promulgation of rules and regulations that reach into the interstices of everyday life to hamper initiative, stymie independence, stifle originality. This power, said Tocqueville, “extends its arms over society as a whole.”

It does not break wills, but it softens them, bends them, and directs them; it rarely forces one to act, but it constantly opposes itself to one’s acting; it does not destroy, it prevents things from being born; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, dazes, and finally reduces each nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd.

Tocqueville’s analysis has led many observers to conclude that the villain in this drama is the state. But Burnham saw that the real villain was less the state than the bureaucracy that maintained and managed it.

The shepherd was really a flock of shepherds, a coterie of managers who, in the guise of doing the state’s business, prosecuted their own advantage and gradually became a self-perpetuating elite that arrogated to itself power over the levers of society.

Donald Trump’s executive order is a sighting shot across the bow of the managerial elite that has hollowed out our democracy and elevated itself to a position of nearly untouchable unaccountability. …

As of this writing, Donald Trump has been President for less than two months. … He has moved with blinding speed, has indeed undertaken a sort of political blitzkrieg to keep his promises on enforcing immigration laws, repealing Obamacare, rolling back the regulatory state, and reinvigorating the military.

Behind it all, however, is an attack on the managerial elite that has overseen and extended the bureaucratic quagmire that has the West in its clammy and enervating grip.  If Trump manages to unravel the prerogatives of that elite, if he succeeds in handing back power to the political process, he will have fulfilled his most important campaign promise.

hat-tip Stephen Neil