This coup d’etat is not only about President Trump. It represents not the rule of one man or even many, but by the multitude of our elites.
It’s nearly incontrovertible that a slow-motion coup d’etat is now taking place. Since November 9, 2016, forces within the U.S. government, media, and partisan opposition have aligned to overthrow the Electoral College winner, Donald Trump.
To achieve this they have undermined the institutions of the Fourth Estate, the bureaucratic apparatus of the U.S. government, and the very nature of a contentious yet affable two-party political system. Unlike the coup d’etat that sees a military or popular figure lead a minority resistance or majority force into power over the legitimate government, this coup d’etat is leaderless and exposes some of the deepest fissures in our system of government. This coup d’etat represents not the rule of one man or even many, but by the multitude of our elites.
This article outlines the mechanisms, institutions, and nature of this coup d’etat; not in defense of President Donald Trump — who has proven himself bereft of the temperament of a successful president — but in defense of the institutions of our republic that are now not just threatened, but may very well be on the verge of collapse.
‘1984’ Is An Apt Comparison, But Not As the Left Thinks
Shortly after the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States, a sort of “meme” appeared among activists on the political left comparing the status of the United States to that of George Orwell’s “1984.” “Think pieces” from , , , and drew comparisons between President Trump and the brutally authoritarian future Orwell envisioned. In April of this year, screenings of the film version of Orwell’s dystopian novel . “1984” surged up Amazon’s bestseller list. The tragedy of this exercise was that the comparison was very apt, but for different reasons.
The villain of “1984” isn’t a “man” but an entity — a bureaucracy with an authoritarian impulse. Big Brother isn’t so much a man or a leader but a symbol of the omnipotent reach of the bureaucratic state that dominated the dystopian future. The fear of an elected leader turning into a tyrant — as the political Left and some on the political Right feared in Trump — doesn’t play into the narrative of the novel. Rather, it is the fear of a nearly faceless administrative state; a state that has achieved a near totality in terms of tyranny.
This fear of the administrative state was a key feature among at least two individuals writing at the , Publius Decius Mus and professor Angelo Codevilla. Decius’s “The Flight 93 Election” essay acted as a sort of rallying cry for some conservatives and small-“r” republican intellectuals against the very real fear that a Hillary Clinton victory would cement the totalizing power of the administrative state — that is career bureaucrats and administrators who view the virtues of the republic as something to be washed away and remade in their own “progressive” image. :
If conservatives are right about the importance of virtue, morality, religious faith, stability, character and so on in the individual; if they are right about sexual morality or what came to be termed “family values”; if they are right about the importance of education to inculcate good character and to teach the fundamentals that have defined knowledge in the West for millennia; if they are right about societal norms and public order; if they are right about the centrality of initiative, enterprise, industry, and thrift to a sound economy and a healthy society; if they are right about the soul-sapping effects of paternalistic Big Government and its cannibalization of civil society and religious institutions; if they are right about the necessity of a strong defense and prudent statesmanship in the international sphere—if they are right about the importance of all this to national health and even survival, then they must believe—mustn’t they?—that we are headed off a cliff.
For Decius, Trump represents the final option to head off the transformation of the American republic into an administrative state where bureaucrats would wield an immutable regulatory dictatorship over the American citizenry.
Codevilla, prescient, went a step further and surmised that the republic was already dead; the Caesarism of an imperial presidency had :
Electing either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump cannot change that trajectory. Because each candidate represents constituencies hostile to republicanism, each in its own way, these individuals are not what this election is about. This election is about whether the Democratic Party, the ruling class’s enforcer, will impose its tastes more strongly and arbitrarily than ever, or whether constituencies opposed to that rule will get some ill-defined chance to strike back. Regardless of the election’s outcome, the republic established by America’s Founders is probably gone. But since the Democratic Party’s constituencies differ radically from their opponents’, and since the character of imperial governance depends inherently on the emperor, the election’s result will make a big difference in our lives.
If asked at the time of authorship, one doubts either man could have predicted the swiftness in which the administrative state would be able to consolidate power and isolate the presidency. Yet that is what has exactly occurred. With the aid of the media and the Democratic Party, the institutions of the republic are crippled, the levers of power having been seized not by the elected but by the unelected bureaucratic state — from ideologues at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the partisans and paranoid who inhabit our intelligence community.
The Administrative State Versus the American People
Arguably, what has been branded as “The Resistance” — but in actuality is the totalitarian might of the administrative state and their partisan allies — began with the Democratic Party’s scorched-earth campaign against the political nominations of the Trump White House. But beyond the partisan rancor of the legitimate and often frustrating nomination process, more sinister forces were at work.
onto the mindset of the administrative state in a piece detailing the resistance of EPA bureaucrats. An anonymous and unelected government employee wrote to laying out a lengthy argument justifying his or her resistance to reforms by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and objection to directives from the White House:
What type of nation are we when we allow our leaders to sign into law a rule that makes it EASIER for mining companies to pollute local waterways? These same politicians will try to convince their voters that making it easier to pollute local streams is somehow good for them… [The anti-democratic notion that careerists at the EPA have a greater authority than the will of the people and their elected representatives is astounding and stands against concept of a representative republic]
Here in the US, those of us who work to protect the environment and human health from corporate pollution are lucky enough that we do not live under the specter of murder. We are, however, acutely aware that the forces behind these heinous crimes against environmental activists abroad are the same forces that are working against us in the US today. And make no mistake: These forces are poised to grow even stronger…
..Will the capture of EPA by corporate interests be swept up in all the other horrifying news of the day or week? Or will the public finally decide that it is not acceptable to allow EPA, the only agency with a mission dedicated to protecting the environment, to be systematically dismantled, allowing those at the top to further concentrate wealth and power among themselves? Despite the long odds we face, we will never stop working to protect every person’s right to have a healthy place to live, work, and play. And if the new administrator casts me out of the job I love, I will not stop working toward the principles that have always animated my life. This is who I am, and that will never change. I stand in solidarity with brothers and sisters that work to protect human rights, human health, and the environment here in the US and all over the world. The struggle continues.
This is not the words of a dutiful civil servant but of a partisan tyrant who would see his own view, his own agenda, and his own lens of politics dominate over that of the elected government of the United States. In their minds they are but a guardian of the people, albeit one that must stand up to and ultimately negate the will of that very same people. Were the United States governed by a different political system, this view of the role of the unelected and their duty to act as sovereign over the people might even be admirable, but that is not a republican system.
Which Side Is Really Treasonous?
Complicit with the authoritarian nature of the administrative state is factions within the United States intelligence community both inside and outside the White House. They have engaged in a campaign of selective leaks and plots to undermine the president of the United States and weave a media narrative of Russian influence, conspiracy, and now obstruction of justice. With their media allies, they have leaked information and intelligence that — while lacking any actual criminal element — has allowed a narrative to arise that casts a dark shadow over the White House and those who live and work in it.
A narrative comprised of the Russian government “hacking” the presidential election, collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and Trump being compromised by the Russian government dominated the media before the final votes of the election were even tallied. Skepticism was suspended for what can only be described as a concerted effort to undermine the elected president of the United States.
Shortly after the inauguration, this narrative escalated via select leaks — and was admirably exacerbated by White House actions. We now face a crisis over a fired director of the FBI, with current and retired officials spinning stories to the media with little basis other than the whispers of anonymous sources.
We are told that President Trump demanded a loyalty oath from FBI Director James Comey, demanded Comey drop the FBI investigation into the foreign connections of Gen. Michael Flynn, and that this constitutes obstruction of justice and, in the most hysterical cases, that this among other offenses even constitutes treason.
Yet in all of this we have yet to see the purported Comey memo detailing some of these moments — although from the media treatment it is understandable that many would constitute the media reports as truth. The meeting between President Trump and the Russian foreign minister has resulted in a similar tale of collusion and gross breach of intelligence tradecraft, with Trump’s national security advisor and the secretary of State, both present for the meeting, have both denied.
The Media Slips Loose the Dogs of War
In all of this, the media has abandoned their role as watchdogs with a healthy dose of skepticism and become the propaganda arm of the unelected administrative state, complicit in and even cheering on the actions that have superseded the will of the people. A cursory glance at the social media feeds of most Washington DC-based press more than illustrates this.
Bolstered by their partisan allies, the media has acted as a beachhead for the assault on the Trump administration. Partisan organizations like Media Matters for America have helped to provide ammunition to the media and pour fuel on the fires of resistance among partisan activists. Eric Boehlert, a former journalist and now a writer at Media Matters, tweeted, following the revelation of a possible memo from Comey: “Trump obstructed justice THREE WEEKS INTO HIS FIRST TERM”
(Go to website to read tweets)
Boehlert provides no actual evidence of obstruction of justice. Rather, he runs with an intentional media narrative that the mere whisper, the idea, is in-and-of-itself proof that obstruction occurred. Thus Boehlert is affirmative in his tweet, not speculative. Because the administrative state, the progressive political partisans, and the media oppose the Trump administration, any whiff of maleficence is treated as the Gospel Truth.
Boehlert’s follow-up tweets provide insight into the mindset that has taken over our media and political institutions. “Comey’s firing signaled the end for Trump; he upset forces that were unseen to him. [sic] and now they’re exacting revenge…..as they should”
This should be a disturbing revelation, even one coming from a mind so addled and partisan as Boehlert’s. Justice, properly pursued, is a good end, but what Boehlert is cheering on is the revenge of a man who was legally and constitutionally fired. This is the partisan nature of the administrative state revealed. Partisans of the political Left cheering on bureaucrats to help create a narrative and the appearance of malfeasance where there has yet to be any evidence of such.
Boehlert continues:“ftr, these leaks are unusual: Mon, WP got scoop then quickly lots of reporters filled in. today, NYT, then lots of reporters filled in.”
These series of tweets illustrate the broader problem of collusion between the various elements of the partisan Left, the media, and the administrative state. The attack on Trump from within and without is coordinated and purposefully geared to make a lack of evidence seem like a mountain of evidence and be as damning as possible, although what it truly amounts to is a paper tiger. With the administrative state leaking and the partisans giving context, the media gins up a plot that declares Trump guilty of crimes of which there is no concrete evidence he committed. This is how you build the consensus behind a coup d’etat.
A Smear Production Factory
One only need look at the case of Sebastian Gorka to see just how far and how petty the media has gone to act as the enforcer of the administrative state. Some in the intelligence community and partisan bureaucracy viewed Gorka unfavorably, resulting in an organized campaign in the press against him.
began running articles tying Gorka to a Hungarian order of merit called the Vitézi Rend, which, during World War II, had factions that supported the Hungarian dictator Horthy, the Imperial House of Habsburg, and the Nazi party. Despite no clear evidence, labeled Gorka, in essence, a Nazi. The media ran with that narrative, bolstered by activist campaigns by partisans of the Democratic Party and those opposed to Gorka in the intelligence community.
We have emerged into a new system of government, though perhaps not truly an imperial one.
In truth, the real objection to Gorka was his view of Islam as a civilizational confrontation and of radical Islam as a hostile force against the West. There as yet remains no evidence of Gorka or his father being tied to the Nazi party in any way — yet that did not stop journalists from surmising on social media that Gorka’s immigration to the United States and status as a U.S. citizen should have been blocked and should be revoked.
The scale of the administrative state and its allies’ war against the duly elected government of the United States should be startling. The media should be an institution of skepticism and concern for this usurpation, yet they have chosen to be complicit. In this, Codevilla is correct. We have emerged into a new system of government, though perhaps not truly an imperial one.
Whereas some continue to try and enforce republican values and norms, a large swath of what administers the government of our nation has chosen to embody the Roman dictator Sulla — in the form of a multitude of bureaucrats and careerists; a dictatorial court without an emperor to bring them to heel.
We may already be past the point of no return. Some in the White House made it a point to seek dismantling the administrative state, but it appears the administrative state is more than capable of fighting back and seizing additional power through leaks, obstinacy, and partisan rancor — ensuring its survival and propelling what can only be described as a coup d’etat.
James Downton is the pen name of a Federalist contributor who is contractually prohibited from writing publicly about politics under his real name.