Government Watch / Politics

If You Can’t Drain It, Staff It: Republicans and the Administrative Swamp

AMAC Exclusive – By David P. Deavel

Senate

Despite the best efforts of the media the midterm elections look to be a Red Wave. How big that wave is will depend on both how bad it gets in the next couple of months and whether enough Republicans run on something more than how bad it’s getting under Democrat rule. It could be very bad, which will likely convince GOP strategists that their goal is to simply get out of the way. That is a mistake. Republicans need to be running on promises about how they can actually mend what Dems have put asunder. But GOP politicians need to do more than come up with better policies, crucial as that is.

All the best policies in the world won’t execute or administer themselves. What often happened in the Trump administration—subversion of the administration’s policies by departmental officers and administrators at high and low levels—happens at all levels of government. The administrative swamp often drains Republican policies before the politicians can drain them. Thus, executives and legislators must identify able candidates for administrative positions in government or prepare to see their policies become dead letters or, worse, the means by which opposing policies are enacted. At all levels of government, the old saying is true: personnel is policy. Three new stories in three different states, one negative and two positive, demonstrate this truth. They are suggestive of what the GOP needs to focus on to win, not only elections but the policy battles that will ensure their constituents’ well-being—and further election victories that do not depend only on how bad the other side is.

Let’s eat the broccoli first and start with the negative. Idaho is a red state in which all major executive offices are held by Republicans, the state house has a 58-12 advantage for the GOP, and the state senate is 28-7. And yet the Idaho Freedom Foundation reported this week on the promotion of sex-education programs that are “developed and endorsed by Planned Parenthood.” Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW) instructs, say authors Anna Miller and Scott Yenor, public health districts to implement a program called Reducing the Risk (RTR) that was produced by Education, Training, and Research (ETR), an outfit that also provides curricula that include “porn literacy,” “gender transitions,” and polyamory.

While IDHW responded to the report (see the update to this article at RedState) by saying that they only promote RTR and no other programs, that parents can opt their children out of the programs, and that the programs do cover abstinence, this doesn’t quite cut it. Miller and Yenor’s report indicates that other videos from ETR include Planned Parenthood representatives explaining how the RTR can be used to include lessons on IVF surrogacy, puberty blockers, and other topics not explicitly mentioned in the RTR curriculum. And that curriculum tees up the use of radical gender theory by using “gender neutral” names in its role-playing.

Miller and Yenor’s report shows that Idaho’s North Central Public Health District, which covers five cities including Moscow and Lewiston, not only uses the RTR curriculum but also includes links on its websites to the ETR training on “Porn Literacy and Queering Sex-Ed.” The training includes cartoon videos that are sexually explicit and aimed at children as young as third grade. Further, the website links to plenty of other offerings for kids that include polyamory, gender transitions, and the all-important topic of where students can get abortions. To add to all of this, though the IDHW statement in response claims that they do not seek out Planned Parenthood approval and only promote RTR, Miller, and Yenor show that the IDHW website links to Planned Parenthood itself, which means that the agency can hardly be “unaware of the radical intent behind the RTR curriculum.”

So far, so bad. But here are two stories of red states that have scored wins. The first comes from Idaho’s neighbors to the south and east. Montana is similarly red in executive offices as well as state legislative bodies, though one Democrat, Jon Tester, is serving a third term in the U. S. Senate. Yet the news this week from the Treasure State is very different. In 2021 Montana passed a law that mandated that any changes to a person’s sex on a birth certificate be accompanied by proof that the person’s sex had been “changed by surgical procedure.” As the Post-Millennial reports, a Montana judge halted the policy when two Montanans who identified as transgender sued the state on the basis of a violation of their rights to privacy and due process. The judge agreed that the law, which did not indicate what kind of surgery would qualify the individual to change the birth certificate, was “unconstitutionally vague” in this regard and discriminated against such people’s right to “significant control” over the disclosure of their “gender identity.”

Montana’s Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) responded with a rule that just came into effect last Saturday (September 10), which is actually an improvement. The new rule simply forbids individuals, even those who have had cosmetic surgeries on their genitals, from changing their birth certificate’s sex at all unless there was an error. The rule includes some lines from the National Institutes of Health, clarifying that the objective reality of sex cannot actually be changed. “‘Sex’ is a biological classification encoded in our DNA. Males have XY chromosomes, and females have XX chromosomes. Sex makes us male and female. Every cell in your body has sex—making up tissues and organs, like your skin, brain, heart, and stomach. Each cell is either male or female, depending on whether you are a man or a woman.” In the notice of amendment issued, the DPHHS included this: “Science and medical knowledge recognize the difference between ‘sex,’ which is a biological concept (and a biological fact), and ‘gender,’ which is a psychological, cultural, and/or social construct.”

A big win for reality and actually following science that has a much better claim to being called The Science than the diktats of public health tyranny in the Covid era or the policies to limit carbon emissions by means that have been shown to increase them. And it came from a state agency of public health!

The second big win comes from the other side of the country, both geographically and politically. Virginia is, at best, a purple state at the moment. It voted for Biden, has two Democratic U. S. Senators, and a Democratic majority of U. S. Representatives. Republicans hold a slim lead in the state house (52-48) while Democrats have a slim lead (21-19) in their state senate. And yet despite not having all the cards as the GOP does in the two western states, Glenn Youngkin, whose stunning gubernatorial victory last year was due in large part to the education issue, has successfully mended the commonwealth’s education policies yet again. Or, rather, the Virginia Department of Education has.

New guidelines released by that department, according to a report by Just the News, will require that parents be the ones who determine what names, nicknames, or pronouns can be used for their children. Parents must also be informed and give consent before students are given any so-called gender-affirming counseling. Further, the guidelines indicate that all school policies should be enacted under the principle that parents are entitled “to exercise their fundamental rights granted by the Fourteenth Amendment of the U. S. Constitution to direct the care, upbringing, and education of their children,” adding that the Code of Virginia “reaffirms” these rights. “Empowering parents is not only a fundamental right but is essential to improving outcomes for all children.”

Two wins and one loss in the policy arena. And all of them depended on the types of state agencies that are almost always filled with “progressive” activists.

For too long conservatives have, because of a perfectly healthy distrust of our bloated government and its largely unchecked administrative state, shied away from these jobs. They have talked only about getting rid of these departments. Rick Perry, one-time governor of Texas, famously talked in one 2012 Republican presidential debate about getting rid of three federal departments, listing Education, Commerce. . .and then forgetting what else. I sympathize with him, both for blanking on stage and wanting to get rid of these departments. I want to get rid of them, too. But until we do, Republicans are going to have to learn how to manage them in such a way as to make them serve the executive and legislative branches to which they are nominally responsible—or, at the very least, block the harm that they can do.

To do this, conservatives should make sure that they are paying attention to this continuous task: finding people who will fill the kind of administrative and bureaucratic roles that really make a difference. This does not have to be the exclusive task of the politicians or party. Think of the Federalist Society’s role in providing judicial candidates for Republicans. Though not every single one of them has panned out, think how many have. Dobbs v. Jackson owes much to President Trump, Mitch McConnell (I know—he has other problems, but not here), and the Federalist Society’s diligent work in training and identifying figures.

What we need right now is something like a Federalist Society for administrators to identify them, train them, and steel their souls so that they can be “in” but not “of” the swamp. We also need conservatives to emphasize that though the private sector is important and indeed more lucrative, government service is actually a task that can, even at the state level, stop the tide of gender madness from sweeping through our laws, keep it from being foisted on parents without their consent, and make sure the literacy being taught children is not about pornography. We need young conservatives to see that being ready to serve in these positions can be just as important to achieving conservative aims as campaign work, journalism, or running for office.

Should we drain the swamp? Absolutely. Just like the farmers who drain them in order to make the land more productive. But just as natural swamps can also serve the purpose of providing nourishment for other species, when we can’t drain the administrative one, let’s make sure that it feeds, and does not feed off, the nation politically.

David P. Deavel is an Associate Professor of Theology at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas, and a Senior Contributor at The Imaginative Conservative. Follow him on Gettr @davidpdeavel.


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ezed2109
1 month ago

Government needs to bring merit performance management to their day-to-day operations. Supervisors and Managers need to be given the tools and power and authority to take action on employee performance good or bad. Politicians then need to set goals, measurements and reporting mandates for the managers with expectations of providing efficient, cost effective and beneficial services to the tax payers they serve. Just as in business.

arnold ahlert
2 months ago

Americans desperately need to understand the transgender agenda is NOT about sex. It’s about the destruction of objective reality. Because if a man can a be woman simply by saying so, and the government can withhold lunch funding from schools that refuse to agree that men can get pregnant and menstruate, then assertions that two plus two equals five, or the sky is red, not blue can be made just as easily–with that same government coercion as part of the equation.

And forcing people to believe something the KNOW isn’t true is the ESSENCE of totalitarian control

Lynn
2 months ago
Reply to  arnold ahlert

AMEN

HocasPocas
2 months ago

Until we start electing God fearing Christians, we will never have a good school, court room, senate, congress or any elected office clear up to president

Stephen Russell
2 months ago

Do Section F
CUT benefits
Sunset positions
Shut down Dept Ed & Commerce, Energy alone
Downsize
Scrap Interagencies

Victoria Kramer
2 months ago

He wanted to eliminate the Dept of Education, Commerce and Energy.

kat
2 months ago

LinkedIn:  Is Obama managing the Biden puppet?  Obama said that’s what he wanted to do.  Crime, inflation, illegal aliens, CAL 19280 judicial corruption, … the list goes on, and on.  Why does Biden refuse a cognitive test.  VP Kamala Harris is an unfit replacement.  Wasn’t K Harris CA Atty Gen when 2004 CA Rev  & Tax Code 19280 became CA LAW; CA Gov A Schwarzenegger.  19280 holds convicts+ financially liable to CFTB who collects for victim BILLS CRIMINAL for criminal nuisance created.  PARENTS liable for their kids.  
 
CAL 19280 > K-12=<CRIMINALS<VICTIMS<SUFFER!
<CRIME if CAL 19280 TAUGHT?!
codes.findlaw.com/ca/revenue-and-taxation-code/rtc-sect-19280.html
 
NOT TAUGHT 19280 a criminal defense?
CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT?
 
PARENTS $ CFTB COLLECTS 4 VICTIM BILLCRIMINAL
PARENTS LIABLE CFTB COLLECTS for VICTIM, then BILLS CRIMINAL!
CPC:  95 juvenile criminal adult upgrade; Parole denial, CA restriction, … MORE?
 
PARENT MANAGE KIDS IF CAL 19280 AWARE?
 
FEWER CRIMINALS = FEWER VICTIMS? LESS SUFFERING!
 
KNOWING PUBLIC exceeds an ARMED public!
 
2004 Gov A Schwarzenegger signed 2004 enacted (Thus CA LAW,) CA Rev &
Tax Code 19280. Present VP KHarris 2004 CA Attorney General?
Not in PRISON (CPC 205 AgMyhm LIFE EVERY:  CA elected, Judge, lawyerLIAR…)
 
CA gov writes MYSTERY laws keeps SECRET!
CA gov wants CA RIOTS? USA RIOTS? WHO / WHERE ELSE?
 
Had eNOUGH?
Dick Morris, NewsMax
 
WAG JOE CHAOS BIDEN
WokeAfghanistanGasprices
Justice departmentOppressesEnemies
CrimeHunterApprovalratingObscenitySupplychain
BorderInflationDisunityEnergygOneNOrespect
Greg Kelly NewsMax, 29 Aug 22
 
LIBERAL + CHAOS = BIDEN
LiarIncompetentBizarreErraticRacistAngryLazy
CrimeHunterAfghanistanObscenitySupplyChain
BorderInflationDisunityEnergy(gas)Norespect
Greg Kelly NewsMax 6 Sep 22
 
CA Judicial Corruption – 19280 (FB)

Philip Hammersley
2 months ago

Like all things, if a concerted effort is not continuously put forth things will go downhill (“woke”).
Policies and workers should be replaced as much as possible. If the bad employees cannot be fired due to union or civil service, transfer them to the worst place possible and maybe they’ll quit.

MariaRose
2 months ago

Possible action but it can also boomerang in retrospect. It is very hard to move any government/ civil service employees from their job positions without a high degree of paperwork involved. Since most workers in these positions ( regardless of their political views) are not productive in efficiency, because of the “guaranteed” job security, they should experience true staffing shortages based on efficiency expectations as a given caused by their own performance. Making them realize that they are actually only “guaranteed” a paycheck and they, themselves, contribute to their overall job performance requirements. The slower they do their job the more work they are stuck doing which can’t be passed on to their co-workers.

Nancy A Jimeno
2 months ago

As a conservative university adjunct with almost twenty years in California’s state university system, I am “in but not of” the muck of the swamp. It takes someone who is financially secure and has no dependents to survive such an environment. I could not have put up with being ostracized by my betters (tenure and tenure track co-workers) and going through the repeated inquisitions I have endured if keeping this position meant placing my family’s livelihood at risk. Don’t expect young career-minded people to do this. It’s just too risky to one’s future.

Philip Hammersley
2 months ago
Reply to  Nancy A Jimeno

Nancy: I agree with you. I taught 36 years at a technical college turned community college. At first politics were kept out of it but near my retirement, DEI was started at the state level. Sucha poor development!

Ty
2 months ago

The intent is to drain the swamp not add to it, replace it, maybe, but not add to it! If managers are immediately replaced, right thinking people can be brought in to resolve the leftists hate that is the swamp. We need, as Mr. Deavel stated, to put in place constructive and common sense practices for the policies our represenatives pass in every unelected management position. As far as I and millions of other Americans, you’er fired still works and so does you position has been removed.The Swamp has been and still is the biggest failure in our government. Trump lost the election in 2020, in part, because of the swamp dwellers and their unelected control of policy. They voted and swisted results to remain on the government dole. They holding these jobs to benefit themselves not the people they were hired to serve.The only way to do what was suggested would be to fire 50% of all unelected staff positions and 100% of all unelected management positions and then start a retiring and training process to miminmize the remaining positions.

MariaRose
2 months ago
Reply to  Ty

Every one of these positions needs to be evaluated in the effectiveness of redundancy especially since these are not elected positions but hires. Less replacements for the positions as these positions are retired from and more efficiency development of the remaining staff with training. This will streamline and improve the process and cut totally unnecessary costs. Run the programs as businesses are doing without the excessive administrative overhead

David Millikan
2 months ago

Thanks to DICTATOR Beijing biden, VENEZUELA has EMPTIED its PRISONS with VIOLENT CRIMINALS and sending them ALL HERE to cross border ILLEGALLY continuing DICTATOR Beijing biden’s ILLEGAL ALIEN TERRORIST INVASION.
NO BS.
MORE ESPIONAGE and TREASON COMMITTED by DICTATOR Beijing biden with INTENT ILLEGALLY VIOLATING OATH of OFFICE, U.S. CONSTITUTION, LOCAL and FEDERAL LAWS, and NATIONAL SECURITY
ENDANGERING OUR COUNTRY and ALL AMERICAN LIVES.

Susan Miller
2 months ago

Exactly!

Michael J
2 months ago

When anything gets too big, it’s almost impossible not to mismanage it. The federal government isn’t the only entity, but it’s certainly the largest. Outdated laws like outdated bureaucracies are entrenched and near impossible to remove. New bureaucracies, often used as reward to those who helped get politicians elected are also the seeds that spawn big government. But sometimes, those in majority just spend their way to big government. Until special interest and lobbying are curtailed and term limits instituted,
we can expect more bloated government. Our system of checks and balances has been distorted by political mob rule as evidenced by the dismal condition of our nation. Is it any wonder dems are so desperate to keep Donald Trump from further exposing how deep their swamp really is?

PaulE
2 months ago

The solution to the bloat and unaccountability of the federal government is NOT to aid in its continued growth or be just like the Democrats and bulk it up at every turn (like the Democrats just adding 87,000 new IRS agents to go after the middle class), but rather do some serious and substantial pruning back of several government departments and agencies. The federal government could be reduced in half tomorrow, with the exception of the military that serves a valid and constitutional national purpose, and 90 percent of Americans wouldn’t even notice it in their day-to-day lives. You can start with the elimination of the Departments of Energy, Commerce and Education. Then you can cut in half HHS, State, Agriculture and Transportation. That would be a good start to bringing the federal government back towards something less invasive into everyone’s lives.

FDR took advantage of the Great Depression to greatly expand the size and scope of the federal government to levels no one ever imagined for any realistic need. The “Progressive” FDR wanted to micro-manage everything from the White House (typical Socialist mindset) and his policies not only made what should have been a relatively short but deep recession much, much worse, but thanks to his wrong-headed policies he compounded and extended the life the Depression well beyond his own life.

The United States never truly recovered from FDR’s expansion of the federal government, simply because it is far easier to create new bureaucracies via the legislative process than it is to dismantle them. To truly bring the size and scope of the federal government back down towards something closer to what was originally laid out in the Constitution would require both the President and an overwhelming majority of the Congress acting in unison to get the job done. Frankly based on the make-up of Congress of both parties, I don’t see any President getting the necessary legislative support to get that job done. Far too many serving in Congress like the status quo just fine and won’t lift a finger to enact the necessary legislation to scale back the administrative beast. Unless the American people force Congress to act, which I don’t see happening based on the general apathy expressed by most Americans towards doing much of anything, the situation isn’t likely to change.

Ty
2 months ago
Reply to  PaulE

Fire not hire! 100% truth!

anna hubert
2 months ago
Reply to  PaulE

Firing the fed.employee might be a job for Hercules but not replacing the retiring ones might be easier reassign the duties amongst the rest they don’t do anything useful anyway

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