Dean Minnich: How ‘patriots’ chip away at democracy | COMMENTARY

Associated Press writer Lisa Mascaro wrote a story on Aug. 31 that filled the top half of Page 10. The headline was, “Trump camp readies federal wrecking ball.” The subhead explained further, “Conservative groups prepare to dismantle current government.”

It isn’t news that supporters of any candidate might already be planning for changes when election results are in. That’s why we have elections — to effect changes in leaders and representatives.


But Mascaro’s piece was not about a smooth transition and orderly transfer of power that allows the work of government to continue in the service of the needs of the country.

Instead of being about renovations and redecorating, the ultra-right is planning to bring in a demolition crew. They won’t just adjust things; it’s a gut job they want.


“Wrecking ball” is appropriate for the headline.

Supporters of presidential candidate Donald Trump are preparing to fire up to 50,000 employees and replace them with conservative zealots. Key departments led by appointees will ask few questions and be quick to salute and say yes to the commander in chief.

Government will be less about serving the needs of the public and more about doing what the boss wants. It could affect everything from passports to social security to government pensions and loans and so on.

The justification for this draconian approach is the assertion that conservative policies are slow-tracked by government bureaucrats who have liberal leanings, or who are just “weak.”

The plan, should Trump win, is to replace experienced staffers in the bureaucracy with conservative loyalists who will serve the authoritarian government with total loyalty to the chief. It would be like military life in the military. Nobody’s vote counts but the general’s.

Conservatives who get into politics are prone to bring with them a meritocracy approach that leads to taking privileges for granted and granting favors to friends and allies.

How is the U.S. Postal Service doing since the Trump appointee became postmaster general?

I can speak from experience when I say that any elected official who dismisses the value of institutional knowledge and dedication of government employees is wasting a vital resource. Continuity of governments works, whether at the town, county, state or federal level, and rests on the foundations of the employees who are there when you arrive and will be remaining when you depart.


If “deep state” includes the department head or a clerk who does their job to meet the needs of the customer, I’ll take that. Certainly over the big wheel in the corner office who is only counting the money he or she has not yet collected or spends his or her day on the 19th hole at the golf course before trotting off to a party fund-raiser.

We all want law and order and peaceful communities, clean and well-run. Neighbors are diverse and differences are inevitable. But regardless of what party affiliation Americans claim, most of us believe that government should be of rules rather than of men.

Right now, having survived an attempt to destroy it on the infamous assault of Jan. 6, we still have democracy, not a dictatorship.

There are those planning today to get around that by destroying democracy from within, with loyal and like-minded supporters of an autocracy.

Two-party political debate has been the foundation of America. One-party rule would be a demotion in world status. One-man rule, even created by well-meaning Americans, would be our greatest tragedy.

Dean Minnich served two terms as a county commissioner. He writes from Westminster.