Over the last three and a half years, pro-Trump commentators have often lamented the pace at which President Trump has proceeded to “drain the swamp.” They fault him for not scouring the bureaucracy of members who actively oppose his agenda by leaking information to the press, slow-walking his directives, and outright opposing his agenda through their actions.
A recent example outlines the difficulty of accomplishing this task beyond his cabinet and a layer or two down in the various federal agencies. President Trump gave a clear directive recently regarding training in the federal government. Any training within the federal agencies that included critical race theory was to be eliminated. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Russ Vought implemented this directive through a memorandum to the heads of the Executive Branch departments and agencies on September 4th.
The president’s action was primarily driven by reporting done by City Journal contributing editor, Christopher Rufo. Rufo started by exposing training the City of Seattle was forcing on its employees. His report prompted employees from federal agencies to contact him with similar stories of taxpayer-funded training being conducted that singled out white employees, specifically white men. The curriculum had them complete what can only be described as struggle sessions to confess their privilege and racism.
The president issued his order to Vought shortly after Rufo appeared on Tucker Carlson Tonight on September 1st to share his findings from Sandia National Laboratories and the Treasury Department. Rufo explicitly called on President Trump to issue an executive order to ban these training sessions during the interview.
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By September 14th, a whistleblower had contacted Rufo and provided communications that the CDC intended to proceed with a 13-week training curriculum based on critical race theory in direct opposition to the president’s directive. Director Vought quickly quashed this program. Then Rufo received a deluge of reports that other agencies planned to defy the directive. The State Department, the EPA, and VA were all moving full steam ahead according to documents Rufo summarized:
The agencies are pressuring staff to denounce their “white privilege,” become “co-resistors” against “systemic racism,” and sign “equity pledges.”
- The State Department is moving forward with a “21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge,” in which staff are asked to recite a racial equity “pledge,” “select a different minority group daily,” and engage in a “10-15 minute challenge” in “pursuit of racial equity.”
- The EPA is hosting a seminar on “Race, Resilience, and the Role of Being an Ally.” They will teach “allyship, anti-racism, white fragility, microaggressions, white privilege, and systemic racism”–the key terms of critical race theory.
- The Veterans Administration is moving forward with hosting a “Race Cafe” at its West Palm Beach office. Employees will have a “discussion of Microaggressions” and executives will sign an “equity pledge.”
Director Vought once again ensured these training sessions were canceled. But in an appearance on Glenn Beck’s podcast, Vought was directly asked about consequences for employees who defied President Trump’s order:
BECK: I mean this is insubordination. I mean you are going against a presidential directive. If you can’t be fired for that, what can you be fired for?
VOUGHT: Not much Glenn, to be honest with you and that’s the rules and the laws that have been put in place. But we do have the ability to build a record of where individuals have not performed.
BECK: Unbelievable. Absolutely.
VOUGHT: And that is what we are looking at to the best of our ability.
BECK: This is, it’s unacceptable. I am not saying it is for you Russ, but this is unacceptable. I don’t know how the president accepts that. That should be priority number one. Figuring out a way to be able to fire people or you’ll never get rid of the Deep State. If you can’t fire the people. That just sends a message to all of the other people who want to disagree with the president and do what they want.
Of course, Beck speaks blatant truth at the end. To the administration’s credit, it has issued an Executive Order that prohibits training based on racial and gender stereotypes for federal agencies, the military, and federal contractors. It also specifies that OMB and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will certify all training content, and adverse employment action can start against civil servants who ignore the restrictions.
This action is all well and good. However, OMB and OPM are made up of, you guessed it, the same protected civil servants who inhabit all of the other agencies. Do you see the game of Whack-a-Mole yet?
Ultimately, it will be up to voters to demand our congressional representatives gut the current law to ensure that a civil servant’s primary responsibility is to implement the directives of our elected representatives. The only people we can hold accountable for delivering on their promises are those we elect to office. In the Executive Branch, the president and his cabinet must have the power to ensure the employees in federal agencies implement their directives. They must have the ability to take swift and decisive action when this is not the case.
Until we do, swamp rats like Colonel Vindman, Eric Ciaramella, Marie Yovanovitch, and others will continue to move around the bureaucracy where they will find new ways to leak, obstruct, and oppose a president with whom they disagree. There is not sufficient time in a four-year or even an eight-year term to drain the swamp under the current rules.
No CEO in the private sector would tolerate this. Americans should not accept federal employees rejecting the policies of the people we have elected. “Civil servant” implies these employees serve the public. It is time we demand they do so in accordance with our will, as expressed through the ballot box.