Republicans have embraced this idea for more than 40 years
“When I get back into the Oval Office,” former president Donald Trump told the annual gathering of the conservative group Turning Point USA recently, “I will obliterate the deep state.” While this may sound like simply more of the same authoritarian bombast that he is known for, it is no idle threat. Indeed, it is deeply rooted in a Republican imperative that predates Trump, one that has a political traction that probably will outlast him.
Trump’s plan, outlined on the former president’s campaign website, is to bring every part of the federal government under his personal control. This includes stripping employment protections from “deep state” civil servants, making independent federal agencies directly answerable to the White House, blocking funds that have already been appropriated by Congress for programs he opposes and eliminating any legal accountability for presidential actions.
Trump seems more likely to succeed the second time around because his allies have spent the past few years making plans and training staffers to overcome the obstacles they faced during Trump’s term — barriers that thwarted many of his authoritarian impulses.