The tide appears to be turning in the conservative movement, and the hunger to finally go on offense might well be answered with a Republican president in 2025.
by Breccan F. Thies, Breitbart.com, February 2, 2023
Institutional barriers have been built by the administrative state for decades, safeguarding the permanency of bureaucratic power against the goals of any elected president — but conservative ones in particular.
While Republicans have historically been the party of small government, as Spencer Chretien, associate director of the Heritage Foundation’s 2025 Presidential Transition Project, told Breitbart News, “One thing conservatives need to wrap their head around is the fact that we need to use the levers of government and not just get the government out of the way.”
Chretien and the Heritage Foundation are working in a coalition of conservative groups to ensure unitive and effective governance if a Republican president takes over the White House in 2025.
“We are there in government, hopefully in 2025, to dismantle the administrative state,” he said. “But that also means we need to know how to use the levers of power and not just have an instinctual reaction to get the government out of everything.”
It will be a paradigm shift among Republicans — who have typically taken the Reaganite view that the use of government is antithetical to their principles — toward a populist movement that sees primarily that such a view has made Republican governance ineffective.
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Dismantling “permanent D.C.” — the Praetorian guard of unelected and unaccountable administrative employees who remain in power regardless, and often in spite, of the elected president — is a top priority for conservatives who found themselves subject to a rude awakening when former President Donald Trump took office in 2017.
“Career federal employees are very good at understanding the minutiae of every single regulation there. They’ll take steps to trip you up, or spring a trap,” Chretien, who served in the White House as special assistant to Trump and associate director of the Presidential Personnel Office, told Breitbart News. “So we need to go in with people; new people who have been trained up, people who know what to expect, and people who are willing to use the levers of power to enact the president’s agenda.”
The executive branch is made up of about two million career employees and more than ten million federal contractors. “So that is the bureaucracy,” Chretien said. “Sitting atop those numbers, you have between 3,000 and 4,000 political appointees, if you succeed in filling all of them — if you succeed in getting people confirmed.”
“Let’s assume that every one of those 4,000 was fully aligned with the president’s agenda,” he continued. “You still have a tiny fraction of the government that’s actually in a position where they can be removed by the president.”
In other words, only a small minority of executive branch employees are truly accountable to the president, while the vast majority — the “expert” class — are heavily protected by civil service unions and otherwise.
“Americans are right to be skeptical of the bureaucracy,” Chretien said. “I think you need to get a sense of just how vast it is before you’re able to go about the work of dismantling the administrative state.”
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As Breitbart News reported, the 2025 project is a blueprint not only for dismantling the administrative state, but also for finding, training, and staffing one primed to get conservative policies enacted at a national level.
Effective political leadership is a requirement for success, particularly in a bureaucratic environment hostile to conservative ideas.
The fundamental importance of political leadership and accountability in the executive branch has been lost for generations, and the American presidency has been weakened as a result.
“It’s an imperative part of our constitutional system to have a robust political management of the bureaucracy,” Chretien told Breitbart News.
“Politics is very important,” he continued. “The ultimate check on power in this country is the president’s accountability to the voters and other politicians’ accountability to the voters. The president is elected on a certain platform to do a certain job, and he’s entitled to a supportive staff that helps them achieve those goals.”
One of the primary arguments for the shift away from political leadership was staffing agencies with subject matter “experts” who would become mainstays, regardless of the president.
“I want to reject this idea that it’s always the case that career federal employees have more technical or scientific expertise than political appointees,” Chretien said. “That is not true. And political appointees, because they’re political appointees, are entitled to the appropriate deference from the careers.”
One of the major goals of the 2025 project is to find Americans willing to serve in government and train them to be effective from the first day in office.
“What we need is political appointees who are willing to do the hard work, who aren’t just going to go along to get along with with their career counterparts,” Chretien said. “We are going to look outside D.C. We’re going to look at people who’ve made sacrifices, who’ve paid the price for standing firm.”