The New Mandarins Of The Deep State

Donald_Trump_(29347022846) (1).jpg

The shocking defeat of GOP Senator hopeful Roy Moore may not spell the end of Trumpism, but you can see it from there. The president’s unconventional peasant rebellion has now reached its high-water market, with a countervailing tide threatening to inundate an increasingly vulnerable GOP.

One good piece of news: the once common hysteria about Trump as a new authoritarian threat should start to recede. Constitutional limits, such as elections, tend to undermine even the savviest would-be dictators, and Trump is far from that. His endorsement of Moore, uncontrolled tweeting, and otherwise un-presidential behavior likely has squandered any a promising chance for using a robust economy to expand his base. The GOP Goldman Sachs-crafted tax plan, whatever its long-range impact, likely will offer little encouragement to the working and middle-class voters who have supported him.

Trump: Manna from Heaven for bureaucracy

Trump’s incompetence has turned out to be the gift that keeps giving to the growing mandarin class who dominate much of the upper bureaucracy, media, academia and increasingly the corporate world. With the feared Trumpian Reich already collapsing, we may see the revival of another subtler form of authoritarianism, this time from the re-empowered progressive establishment.

In contrast with Trump’s assertive know nothingism, our long entrenched expert class — behind so many miscalls from peak oil and dietary advice to Syria and the Soviet Union — seems a bit more credible. Instead of “draining the swamp,” Trump has managed to unite all the elements of the so-called “deep state” including both predictable big government progressives with historically conservative agencies like the FBI and most of the national security apparatus.

The establishment opposition, defined by undermining leaks and a relentless Russian prosecution, suggests that Trump’s aggrieved sense of persecution appears at the same time both petty but not totally delusional. “It’s no mystery why Trump doesn’t trust U.S. intelligence agencies,” as long-time national security reporter Eli Lake put it. “As the old saying goes: Just because your paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. Trump understandably believes the intelligence agencies are out to get him.”

Read the entire piece at The Orange County Register.

Joel Kotkin is executive editor of He is the Roger Hobbs Distinguished Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University and executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism. His newest book is The Human City: Urbanism for the rest of us. He is also author of The New Class ConflictThe City: A Global History, and The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050. He lives in Orange County, CA.

Photo: Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America (Donald Trump) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Uncharacteristically Stupid

An uncharacteristically stupid piece by Kotkin. Not necessarily for the thrust of its argument but for the stupidities with which it is laden. E.g.:

One good piece of news: the once common hysteria about Trump as a new authoritarian threat should start to recede.

This assumes that the hysteria is authentic and sincere in the first place, which it most certainly and patently isn't. The feelings underlying the hysteria are not genuine at all but are, as Seneca chided, merely what people decided to feel. The notion that Trump is or wanted to be an authoritarian, tyrannical, dictatorial etc etc. president is based on nothing but the cotton candy of hundreds of writers, including Kotkin who should know better, merely asserting it. Policy-based evidence, as they say.

His endorsement of Moore, uncontrolled tweeting, and otherwise un-presidential behavior.

This exercise in aesthetics is unworthy of a serious writer like Kotkin but is unfortunately all too common. Obama cracked jokes on late-nite comedy shows. I don't recall Kotkin taking aesthetic exception to that.

another subtler form of authoritarianism, this time from the re-empowered progressive establishment.

Progressive authoritarianism is about as subtle as the Soviet Gulag. These people make no secret of how they intend to treat all who do not toe their lines. See, e.g., the wet dreams of climate alarmists about prison sentences for dissenters form their orthodoxy. Here's a test for Kotkin. About which President were the following words written: "Journalists and transparency advocates say the White House curbs routine disclosure of information and deploys its own media to evade scrutiny by the press. Aggressive prosecution of leakers of classified information and broad electronic surveillance programs deter government sources from speaking to journalists."??

Unlike Trump, whose political methods are both offensive and self-defeating

Shades of 2016, when everybody with even half a brain just knew that Trump could not win. And again with the aesthetics! Kotkin is entitled to his perception of what is offensive. Me, I find offensive a president who infantilizes the people in order to enable more efficient herd management techniques. A president who empowers his deep state operatives to persecute Tea Party and other right-leaning types; a President who dismisses citizens concerned with Islamic terrorism with the Olympian "It's not an existential threat."


The Deep State has taken notice of your rant and when it regains full power you will be escorted to the FEMA reëducation camp.
Have a nice day.

Don't count Trump out yet.

Don't count Trump out yet! Yes, he made a mistake in supporting Roy Moore, but Moore is sui generis and not representative of the Trump agenda.

In 2010 the Democrats under Obama lost the senate seat in Massachusetts to Scott Brown. Yet Obama went on to win reelection. Surely Moore's loss in Alabama is a less significant event.

I think you underestimate Mr. Trump. Whatever else he is, he is not undisciplined. His tweeting is totally strategic and planned. Whether it's a winning strategy remains to be seen.