Across the vast federal bureaucracy, Donald J. Trump’s arrival in the White House has spread anxiety, frustration, fear and resistance among many of the two million nonpolitical civil servants who say they work for the public, not a particular president.
At the Environmental Protection Agency, a group of scientists strategized this past week about how to slow-walk President Trump’s environmental orders without being fired. At the Treasury Department, civil servants are quietly gathering information about whistle-blower protections as they polish their résumés.
At the United States Digital Service — the youthful cadre of employees who left jobs at Google, Facebook or Microsoft to join the Obama administration — workers are debating how to stop Mr. Trump should he want to use the databases they made more efficient to target specific immigrant groups.
“It’s almost a sense of dread, as in, what will happen to us,” said Gabrielle Martin, a trial lawyer and 30-year veteran at the Denver office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where colleagues now share daily, grim predictions about the fate of their jobs under Mr. Trump’s leadership.
“It’s like the movie music when the shark is coming,” Ms. Martin said, referring to “Jaws,” the 1975 thriller. “People are just wary — is the shark going to come up out of the water?”
Gee, that’s too damn bad. The GOP is the party that created the civil service, as a reaction to the Democrats’ plundering patronage system. At first, the Dems kicked about it:
THIS civil service law is the biggest fraud of the age. It is the curse of the nation. There can’t be no real patriotism while it lasts. How are you goin’ to interest our young men in their country if you have no offices to give them when they work for their party? Just look at things in this city today. There are ten thousand good offices, but we can’t get at more than a few hundred of them. How are we goin’ to provide for the thousands of men who worked for the Tammany ticket? It can’t be done. These men were full of patriotism a short time ago. They expected to be servin’ their city, but when we tell them that we can’t place them, do you think their patriotism is goin’ to last? Not much. They say: What’s the use of workin’ for your country anyhow? There’s nothin’ in the game.” And what can they do? I don’t know, but I’ll tell you what I do know. I know more than one young man in past years who worked for the ticket and was just overflowin’ with patriotism, but when he was knocked out by the civil service humbug he got to hate his country and became an Anarchist.
There was once a bright young man in my district who tackled one of these examinations. The next I heard of him he had settled down in Herr Most’s saloon smokin’ and drinkin’ beer and talkin’ socialism all day. Before that time he had never drank anything but whisky. I knew what was comm’ when a young Irishman drops whisky and takes to beer and long pipes in a German saloon. That young man is today one of the wildest Anarchists in town. And just to think! He might be a patriot but for that cussed civil service.
But soon enough they learned to love it, realizing that by putting in good, unfireable Tammany men, they could control the Permanent Government forever.
The Times story lovingly recounts the ways the trolls and munchkins buried deep in the Washington bureaucracy are plotting to sabotage the new administration.
This article is based on interviews around the country with more than three dozen current and recently departed federal employees from the Internal Revenue Service; the Pentagon; the Environmental Protection Agency; the Justice and Treasury Departments; the Departments of Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, and Housing and Urban Development; and other parts of the government. They reveal a federal work force that is more fundamentally shaken than usual by the uncertainties that follow a presidential transition from one party to the other.
Federal workers are more likely to be Democrats, according to surveys… At bars after work, in employee break rooms, on conference calls and on social media networks, employees at agencies targeted for steep reductions fear for their jobs. They worry about Mr. Trump’s freeze on hiring and regulations, his pledge to reverse environmental protections, and his executive order shutting down immigration for refugees and people from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
For Trump — or any other future Republican president — to succeed, control of the government must be wrested back from two distinct, left-leaning groups of cultural sappers: the regulatory agencies (which Congress and/or the president could dissolve in an instant) and the civil service, which needs to be terminated. It came from nothing more than Goo-goo (19th-century slang for “good government”) feelings, and to nothing it should return.
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