The Unspoken Roadblock Against Political Reform.

I have been asked by some people for my thoughts on Gary Johnson, the former Governor of New Mexico and Libertarian Party candidate for president.

Overall, I can support Gary Johnson. He is unquestionably the most libertarian governor in recent US history. His policies have been mostly libertarian in nature and intent. I do not doubt his credentials, in this regard.

Ron Paul was the gold standard of libertarian politicians. Gary Johnson is Ron Paul-lite. He is an acceptable standard bearer in the wake of Ron Paul’s retirement from politics.

POPULIST REVOLT.

Currently, the USA is experiencing a genuine populist revolt. Many voters have had it with the Washington establishment politicians. This is most evident in the Trump wave, which consists of voters who are ignoring the media. The old guard media, meaning the major newspapers and TV networks, cannot manipulate voters like they did in the past. Trumpite voters have finally figured out that most large media companies are merely propaganda arms of the major political establishments, and they are effectively giving the middle finger to the major media corporations. Bernie Sanders’ supporters have also started to figure this out as it becomes increasingly obvious that major media corporations are in the tank for Granny Hill.

But the populist currents are conflicted. Since Bill Clinton first took office, we have had two terms of a Democrat, followed by two terms of a Republican, followed by another two terms of a Democrat. Never before has this been the case. The country really is split mostly even down the middle, with fickle independents becoming the determinate swing vote.

So, voters can perceive that the country is adrift. But they cannot agree on what to do about it.

DOES YOUR VOTE MATTER?

Statistically, your vote does not matter. A detailed study performed by Professors at Princeton University two years ago made this conclusion, which received little attention from the media:

What do our findings say about democracy in America? They certainly constitute troubling news for advocates of “populistic” democracy, who want governments to respond primarily or exclusively to the policy preferences of their citizens. In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule — at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the U.S. political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it (p. 576).

This is something that Trump voters, more than anyone else, need to understand. Trump has implied in some speeches that he intends to clean-house in Washington. It is a good thought; I am not a Trump supporter, but that is a sentiment I can support.

But he cannot do this. Civil Service laws have prevented this very scenario since 1883. American Bureaucracies are given carte blanche to do whatever they want, for the most part. They write their own rules. They hire and fire their own people. Congress could cut their budgets, but they never do. Congress does not cut anyone’s budget, ever.

The President can appoint Cabinet-level employees and dismiss these people at will. But he cannot hire or fire anyone below the Cabinet member. And Cabinet members themselves are utterly useless and totally harmless to employees in their organization. Civil Service laws make it so complicated, costly, and irritating to fire employees, that barely anyone is ever fired. This is why so many government offices are notorious for poor service and bad attitudes. They can get away with this, because it is borderline impossible to fire a government bureaucrat for anything less than criminal charges.

So Trump may talk a big game about changing Washington, but talk is just talk. He will not walk the walk, because he can’t. Nobody can. Nobody ever has. Policies in the USA have not substantially changed direction since the time of the last major Progressive president, the despicable yet universally beloved Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The bureaucrats have interpreted and applied policy as they see fit, regardless of what voters or even politicians want. Each year, another few pages are added to the already 80,000-page Federal Register, and nobody bats an eyelash.

WHO TO VOTE FOR?

I am strongly inclined to write in “None of the Above” for my Presidential vote. This would be meaningless, but I might get a kick out of it. I have considered voting for Gary Johnson. He will never be elected, which I’m sure he knows. But I am willing to vote for Gary Johnson in protest. It would be mildly satisfying if he were to obtain at least 5% of the vote. It would show a genuine rejection of the Washington Establishment in a meaningful segment of the voting population.

As far as I’m concerned, federal-level elections, meaning President and Congress, are futile. National politics are hopeless. To some degree, I think the same about State politics. I vote knowing that it is all kabuki theatre.

The heart of the problem is not in voters, but in the bureaucracy. The US government relies on unelected permanent bureaucrats to function. These are people who get to run their little empires in any way they want, so long as they do not attract enough attention to be charged with a crime. They collect lifetime income and fat pensions. They appoint their own flunkies, police their own ranks, and receive unlimited funding from Congress. Politicians come and go, but they have very little effect on the actual day-to-day operation of the bureaucracy. Civil Service laws protect bureaucrats from politicians… and by extension, voters.

Congress could shake them up by cutting their funding. This would send a clear message. But Congress will never do it willingly. Not in this world, anyway. Somewhere, over the rainbow. Way up high.

On the whole, I am more interested in county and city-level governance than federal governance. These are the levels at which voters can place direct pressure for positive changes out of local politicians and bureaucrats.

CONCLUSION

Until small-government libertarians and conservatives can identify the root of the issue against political reform – Civil Service laws – they are never going to get anywhere. The entrenched bureaucrats will resist change at every level.

Any politician who wants to gain my support need only say this: “Our enemy is the bureaucracy.” Nobody out there is saying this. Gary Johnson does get close to saying this, which I can appreciate. He frequently lambasts US bureaucrats as incompetent, which is true in many cases. Because of this, there is a decent chance I may vote for Gary Johnson, if only to try sending a protest message.

Long term, I am optimistic about the implosion of the bureaucracy. The US government is already bankrupt on paper: over $222 trillion in unfunded liabilities. At some point, they will no longer be able to pay the fat lifetime incomes and pensions of most bureaucrats, at which time many of them will be fired and their agencies may close. That will be a great day. But it is probably still at least 20 years away.

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