The message this establishment is sending to Trump? Conform or be destroyed. The outrage at the president’s executive order on refugees and travel was a sample of what is coming. Trump is used to fighting the media and campaign opponents, but he has little experience with the professional and supposedly nonpartisan bureaucracy. That is why his firing of acting attorney general Sally Yates was so important. She ordered her department not to defend an executive order that had been cleared by the White House counsel and her own Office of Legal Counsel. For Trump to have delayed or done nothing would have been an invitation to further subversion. He let Yates go within hours.
The blasé manner in which the media describes opposition to Trump from within the bureaucracy is stunning. “Federal workers turn to encryption to thwart Trump,” read one Politico headline. “An anti-Trump resistance movement is growing within the U.S. government,” says Vanity Fair. “Federal workers are in regular consultation with recently departed Obama-era political appointees about what they can do to push back against the new president’s initiatives,” reports the Washington Post. No one who professes support for democracy and the rule of law can read these words without feeling alarmed. The civil service exists to support the chief executive—not the other way around. And yet, when White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that career officials who disagree with White House policy are free to resign, the collective response in Washington was outrage—at Spicer!
Not only are there two Americas. There are two governments: one elected and one not, one that alternates between Republicans and Democrats and one that remains, decade after decade, stubbornly liberal, contemptuous of Congress, and resistant to change. It is this second government and its allies in the media and the Democratic Party that are after President Trump, that want him driven from office before his term is complete. You think I exaggerate. But consider this: When a former Defense official who teaches at Georgetown Law School takes to Foreign Policy to propose “3 Ways to Get Rid of President Trump Before 2020,” and when one of those ways is “a military coup, or at least a refusal by military leaders to obey certain orders,” we are in unknown and extremely unsettling territory.