Trump’s Idea of a Conspiratorial deep state Is… Just the Regular Government
This seems like a strange moment to be writing about “the deep state” with the country entering a new phase of open and obvious aboveground chaos and instability. Just as we had gotten used to the fact that the president is, in effect, under congressional indictment, just as we had settled into a more or less stable stalemate over when (and if) the Senate will hold an impeachment trial, the president shook the snow globe again, by ordering the assassination of foreign military officials and threatening the destruction of Iran’s cultural sites. Nothing better than the promise of new war crimes to take the world’s attention away from a little thing like extorting a US ally to help oneself get reelected.
On the other hand, maybe this is exactly the moment to think about the so-called deep state, if by that we mean the little-noticed machinery of governance that keeps dependably churning on in that same snow globe’s pedestal, whatever mayhem may be swirling around above it. Maybe this is even the moment to be grateful for those parts of the government whose inertia keeps the ship of state moving in the same general direction, regardless of who’s on the bridge at any given time.
However, that sometimes benign inertia is not what the people who coined that term meant by deep state.