I publicly supported this administration longer than some and for less time than others, and there are no easy answers to these questions. Every individual has his or her own commitments, own beliefs and own red lines; there is no inherent shame or honor in choosing to work for this administration or not, so long as it is a conscious choice. Some of the most noble work is being done by those who have chosen to stay in the State Department, advocating sensible policies or simply keeping the important bureaucracy of our lead foreign affairs agency running.
But when President Trump’s supporters chanted, “Send her back!,” I took that as a charge for me as well. I asked the Trump administration to send me back from my overseas posting, shipping home the family, foreign language textbooks and various tchotchkes from “shithole countries” that I’ve collected in my years as a United States diplomat. I am joining a growing list of Foreign Service officers who refuse to serve this administration any longer.
No one knows exactly how many employees have left the State Department because of this administration’s policies and mismanagement; for every high-profile or well-publicized resignation, there are other officers who quietly decided it was time to retire, go back to school or find a new line of work. A private Facebook group for Foreign Service officers contemplating a career change has moved in the past year from a place for hushed and agonized conversations to a bustling job board with new members joining daily. Analysts have lamented the loss of senior State Department officials, many of whom were pushed out the door in the first few months of the administration. But no one seems to be paying much attention to the growing exodus of entry-level and midlevel officers, who take with us ground-level expertise that is difficult to replace.