“But Trump’s speech was also deeply dangerous for an even more important reason: Under the cover of his soothing rhetoric about unity and bipartisanship, Trump called on Congress to give him unprecedented and unquestionably antidemocratic powers:” Yascha Mounk
This is a clear attempt to validate a return to political patronage. What’s worse, it beckons back to a time when this was an acceptable practice: encouraging a rewards system that facilitated a quid pro quo while circumventing the rule of law and our system of checks and balances. A 100 plus years ago, a disengaged, ignorant and disenfranchised society let this happen. As just one in a litany of anti corruption efforts, the Progressive Era and the introduction of a professional civil service system curbed the intrusion of political payback in the daily operations of government. Will a contemporary society’s complacency foster a return back to the time of political bosses? Will a series of hidden incremental political actions move the nation away from constitutional principles towards an authoritarian autocracy? Since 1980, manipulative superficial flag waving commentary has painted the bureaucracy as the source of the nations problems. In this light, career public servants will continue to serve as easy political scape goats. No one questions that systems need to be in place that ensures accountability and performance in the governmental workforce. In this instance, modifications to personnel and labor regulations are overdue. Yet contrary to the short-term needs of opportunistic rhetoric, the solution is administrative and not political. The “Public Service” matters. It matters to the thousands of dedicated government employees consistently working to make life better for the entire country, not just an entitled few. With the complexities of a diversified nation, the existing professional merit based system matters more now than ever. Strengthen it, don’t debase it.