What is the Deep State?

A lot of people today worry about what they call the “Deep State.” What actually is the Deep State? And do we need to worry about it?

Deep Red/Blue State

In the 2016 Presidential election the FBI under President Barrack Obama spied on the Trump Presidential campaign based on information, propaganda really, that came from the Clinton Presidential campaign. Throughout Trump’s presidency he warned America about what he called a Deep State: a level of bureaucracy operating out of sight, undermining his political agenda. In just the last few weeks we’ve had a former Biden officer from Border Patrol who has testified that that there is what he called “a planned coordinated attempt to sabotage the Biden administration from within.”

If those statements are true, it sounds like the Deep State is not actually Republican or Democrat, but something entirely different that works against both parties when they’re in leadership. Well some of that certainly is hyperbole. But to some extent a Deep State really does exist in America. It’s nothing more than human nature reeking havoc on the progressive conceit of always knowing what’s best for other human beings. Let me explain.

Back in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s some Americans started believing in science. Not so much as a means of knowing facts or understanding nature but they began to believe in science almost like a religion. It was called the Progressive Movement. And the first President elected under that mindset was Woodrow Wilson. Wilson and his allies argued that science could be applied not just to the facts of nature and the physical elements of the world, but that science could be applied to education. And they could create a new class of bureaucrats who would govern for the common good and follow the science of administration rather than being limited by political interests or partisanship.

In fact, we know in early America, when a new political party came to power, when a President was elected from a new party than the one that had previously been in power, the first thing that happened was the slate was wiped clean. All political appointees from the previous administration were let go. And the President traditionally spent his first 100 days just restocking the bureaucracy, filling the administrative rolls of government with people from his party. So, what you had was the government was always at least coming from the same perspective as the man in the White House.

After Wilson and this idea of a bureaucratic class that would rule for the common good regardless of the changes that the political winds gave with the election of Democrat or Republican or Democrat or Republican. With that mindset, Wilson set out to create government, to expand government so that it would be literally impossible for a President to come in and wipe the slate clean and start fresh with all new people. That’s exactly what’s happened.

The class of administrative experts that we now have that can’t be removed because government has become so massive in America. That class of administrative experts now govern separately from the accountability that the Constitution assigned to those who are actually elected. The idea of a Deep State is not this insidious reality of some cabal of people in a smoke-filled back room who are trying to control the world and run America. What it comes down to is the Progressive agenda from the early part of the twentieth century which said, “Let’s create government at a level so that there’s a consist ruling class that doesn’t tauter back and forth between political agendas.” This was done on purpose. And we’ve been hugely successful.

The Deep State is nothing more than the unelected leadership that basically runs things. Congress can get away with endless debate and no action. The President can posture and give speeches all day long because everybody understands that the real work is being done by bureaucrats in regulatory agencies and other governmental branches. And the politicians themselves are really figureheads playing to the cameras but doing the serious business of running a country.
Now here’s the problem. The Progressive movement altered the way American politics worked. Alongside the branches of government that the Constitution establishes there is now this fourth branch of government that in a sense is unaccountable to the people. We’ve seen it in recent years expressed in a number of different ways. The Internal Revenue Service under President Obama targeted conservative groups for greater scrutiny. We’ve seen career staff at administrative agencies over the last years that clearly disagreed with President Trump’s policies and actively worked to undermine those policies. In fact, we know that the Trump administration leaked like a sieve with somebody sort of spilling the guts almost from a daily basis. Amazingly enough it hasn’t changed under the Biden administration. We’re now told that there are people working against the priorities that President Biden is attempting to put into place.

Rebel with a Cause

Now, I understand how this works. I mean, American politics today involves a fundamental clash of worldviews. Let’s just take the current President and the last President. Donald Trump and Joe Biden don’t just disagree on how high taxes should be, or how much the federal government should spend. They disagree about when life begins. They disagree about whether a biological man that says he’s a woman is actually a woman or not. They disagree whether the government can force people to violate their consciences. They disagree about whether or not carbon emissions will bring life as we know it to an end in a matter of years. They disagree about whether or not America is institutionally or systemically racist. They disagree about whether or not illegal immigrants pouring across the southern border is a problem.

Now, all you have to do is think about it this way. Of course, a person who believes that life begins at conception, that transgender women are still really men, that religious freedom matters, that climate alarmism is bogus and that America is not systemically racist, that kind of person would find it hard to work in the Biden administration. And it’s almost absurd to think that he or she wouldn’t want to rebel somehow. There are those who disagreed with President Trump. It’s natural for them to pull in an opposite direction just like those who disagree with President Biden are pulling in an opposite direction.

Political Ignorance

Here’s the problem. The core of this movement toward a bureaucratically run government, this Progressive idea that’s now over one hundred years old, the flaw was in the very beginning. Wilson and his allies had the idea that they could put people in place who would govern for the common good and not be swayed by the changing tide of public opinion. Like all liberal policies, they failed to take into account the humanity of the people involved. In other words, they thought they could create bureaucrats who would somehow operate from a higher level of devotion and commitment seeking the good of the nation above all other things. And what we’ve discovered in a hundred years is we have real people with real flaws who are just pulling in the direction that they think things should go. So, what we’ve created now is a government that is no longer accountable to the people. Our votes change the occupants of the White House and Capital Hill, but they don’t ever seem to change the direction of the country.

Well, the Bible talks about this. In fact, in 1 Samuel 8 Israel decided that they wanted a king. All of the pagan nations around had a king. They wanted a king. And so, they appealed to Samuel. Samuel went to God and said the people want a king. God said, “Samuel, they’re not rejecting you. They’re rejecting Me.” He said, “Give them a king because that’s what they want. But tell them this.” And He outlines, God outlines through the judge, through the prophet Samuel what a king will actually look like. The people had romanticized this idea that we’ll have a king. And he’ll lead us into battle. And he’ll fight our fights. And he’ll protect us. This is what the way God describes a king. (11-18)

He said, “These are the rights of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and put them to his use in his chariots, on his horses, or running in front of his chariots. He can appoint them for his use as commanders of thousands or commanders of fifties, to plow his ground and reap his harvest, or to make his weapons of war and the equipment for his chariots. He can take your daughters to become perfumers, cooks, and bakers. He can take your best fields, vineyards, and olive orchards and give them to his servants. He can take a tenth of your grain and your vineyards and give them to his officials and servants. He can take your male servants, your female servants, your best young men, and your donkeys and use them for his work. He can take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves can become his servants. When that day comes, you will cry out because of the king you’ve chosen for yourselves, but the LORD won’t answer you on that day.”

In other words, God is telling Israel, “When you cease to follow Me and you put your trust in human government, here’s what will happen.” Human government, because it’s operated by human beings, will inevitably grow, expand, take more power, assemble more wealth, bring more authority to itself. And who will always suffer? The people who pay the price.

There’s no escaping it. The outworking of any Presidential administration is inherently political. Democrats and Republicans both believe they understand science. And they both, I think, want America to be fair. However, they fundamentally disagree about what science and fairness dictate. But we’ve eliminated the ability of the parties to really have much impact because we have created this hidden class, this Deep State. And we’re shocked that it’s made up not of robots, not of machines, but of real human beings who have their own flaws, who are marked by their own opinions and who push back against the policies of their elected bosses.

What am I suggesting here? I’m saying that God uses human government. He uses it to restrain sin, to punish evil and to promote the corporate good. But Jesus was very clear in Matthew 22:21. He said always find the distinction between what rightfully belongs to Caesar and what rightfully belongs to God. Give Caesar what Caesar is owed. But don’t give Caesar anything that rightfully belongs to God.

I’m not afraid of the Deep State in the sense that I think a secret back room group of conspirators are trying to take over our country. The problem with the Deep State is the Progressive agenda in the early part of 20th Century had one fatal conceit. They thought they were smarter than human nature. And that they could build government to operate efficiently. Well, what we found a hundred years later is that government is run by people who are flawed and sinful. And until we find our way back to God and as a nation learn what rightfully belongs to Caesar and what Caesar has no right to. Caesar cannot violate our consciences. Caesar cannot limit our ability to worship together as the people of God. Caesar cannot dictate what we think and believe. But because we have this unaccountable branch of government that we call the bureaucracy it just keeps rolling along. And until we figure out how to undo Wilson’s progressive agenda, we will not see the Deep State go away.

Caesar has what is owed him. But we need to remember who we are and what God calls us to. And that is the key to being a strong and powerful and good nation once again.

This is TruthCurrents.

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