Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Dear Civil Servants: OBSTRUCT!

The biggest anti-Trump secret weapon no one is talking about is the federal bureaucracy.  The one without whose cooperation no president can accomplish jack shit.

Yes, there are trumpies everywhere and the scientists are already being lined up for execution, but there are millions of civil servants who see ill presidente as an existential threat to the nation that they work every day to improve and safeguard.

And they have the power.

The Vandals are busy filling 4,000 political appointment positions with radioactive sewage like Betsy DeVos and Rex Tillerson.

Steve Benen wrote:
The president-elect has no governing experience, and neither does his chief of staff. The same is true of his chief strategist. And his Treasury secretary. And his HUD secretary. And his Education secretary. And his Commerce secretary. And some of his deputy cabinet officials.
In other words, Trump and many of those he’s surrounded himself with have no idea what they’re doing, and about a month from now, they’ll be running the executive branch of a global superpower. These are the same folks, however, who’ve decided to “largely ignore” detailed governing plans.
And while those appointees may have the titles and the pay, they are vastly outnumbered by the civil servants who actually run the country.
According to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), as of December 2011, there were approximately 2.79 million civil servants (civilian, i.e. non-uniformed) employed by the US Government.
That's 697.5 to one.  You can take 'em, y'all.

Political appointees serve at the pleasure of the president.  They can be fired at any time for any reason.  Civil servants, however, have civil service protections.  They can be fired only for cause: proven to have committed a statutory firing offense, like embezzlement or drug dealing. Yes, bosses can gin up charges but it requires months if not years of daily documentation. Few appointees have that kind of patience or competence.

Especially because contrary to conventional wisdom, after 30 years of budget cuts, agencies are grossly understaffed. Appointees can't afford to get rid of people they need to literally keep the lights on.

Thus the hidden power of civil servants.  They don't have to start riots.  They don't have to rebel.  They don't have to be insubordinate.  They don't have to refuse to follow orders. They don't have to break any laws or rules at all.

All they have to do is quietly obstruct.  Play dumb.  Stall.  Make small but time-consuming mistakes.  Do nothing without detailed instructions. Repeatedly seek clarification. Request signed approval for every tiny step.

The game-show host is already planning to cut civil-service protections and pensions.  Civil servants have nothing to lose by fighting back the only way they can.

Civil servants can't Resist by protesting like the rest of us.  In return for job protection, they give up their civil rights to participate in partisan political activities.  But they can Resist by obstructing the catastrophe at every turn.

1 comment:

Ed said...

When you dismantle the agency that you are in charge of, you don't have to govern it.
Dear Civil Servants: LEARN A SKILL! You're going to need it.