Thwarting democracy to save it


Unless this is just a hoax, a troll, or a high-profile LARP, it’s a little alarming to read of an anonymous “senior official” in the Trump administration that think it knows better than to do its actual job: 

The dilemma — which he does not fully grasp — is that many of the senior officials in [Trump’s] own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations. […]

In addition to his mass-marketing of the notion that the press is the “enemy of the people,” President Trump’s impulses are generally anti-trade and anti-democratic. […]

Astute observers have noted, though, that the rest of the administration is operating on another track, one where countries like Russia are called out for meddling and punished accordingly, and where allies around the world are engaged as peers rather than ridiculed as rivals.

On Russia, for instance, the president was reluctant to expel so many of Mr. Putin’s spies as punishment for the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. He complained for weeks about senior staff members letting him get boxed into further confrontation with Russia, and he expressed frustration that the United States continued to impose sanctions on the country for its malign behavior. But his national security team knew better — such actions had to be taken, to hold Moscow accountable.

Truthful or not, the op-ed points to a reality that has been obvious for some time, namely that the president is surrounded by numerous officials who are implacably opposed to core elements of his agenda. You may recall that protectionism and detente with Russia were two of Trump’s signature campaign promises, which the voting public effectively endorsed when they elected him. This process, whereby a candidate makes promises and voters elect him to implement those promises, is called democracy. I know it’s hard for many Washington bureaucrats to accept this, but surreptitiously thwarting the will of the electorate on such contested issues as trade and foreign policy is pretty much the opposite of what is implied by “preserv[ing] our democratic institutions.”

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