Many years ago, I started my federal career with the Department of the Navy. I was employed as an engineer and was told at that time that all government employees serve the People of the United States of America. Since I had just finished college and was about to get married, I didn’t pay much attention to the details of service to the People. All I wanted to do was keep sailors and marines alive.
About a decade into my career, a Navy Captain reminded me of the concept of service when I got annoyed about a particularly idiotic idea from a couple of West Virginia inventors. His reminder sticks with me today – No matter how stupid or silly or idiotic or even insulting an idea is, if it came from an American citizen we owe him or her our respect and best efforts. We would not have government employment or be needed if we didn’t serve the People.
Then came a shift in government employment fundamentals. My GS rating became a GM rating. The “S”, which had been a reminder of service, became an “M” – and turned us all into managers. Thus, instead of serving the People we were to manage the people.
The current FBI/DOJ situation is a stark reminder of what happens when government employees forget service to the People. We see agents and departmental executives calling Americans stupid, illiterate, low class, and on and on. Instead of honoring service to the People we see disdain and outright animosity.
- How dare an American citizen challenge what is good for him or her? We know best what it is.
- How dare an American citizen challenge our authority? We are the federal government.
- How dare we, the educated elites, have to suffer the condemnation of lesser Americans? We are in control, not you and not even your representatives.
The danger to America’s democratic republic isn’t just in the idea of managing rather than serving the People. Managing has morphed into statist, elitist and, now, totalitarian power and control. This has weakened the body politic and intruded into the public space where people are supposed to reason and debate amongst themselves. This has fostered the idea that a small group of politicians and bureaucrats are philosopher kings. It has utterly undermined the idea that this is a government of, by and for the People.
The founders warned Americans about the tendencies of politicians to amass power. George Washington is often cited as saying the following, “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action”. I add, – who are the irresponsible actors if not politicians and bureaucrats?