The left is terrified that if former President Donald Trump still has enough support to mount a White House comeback in 2024, he’ll fulfill his promise and drain unelected bureaucrats working against his administration from the D.C. swamp.
Their fear is evident in Jonathan Rauch’s latest piece in the Atlantic, where he composed more anti-Conservative rhetoric prophesying that “a second Trump term could bring about the extinction of American democracy.”
However, when looking past Rauch’s warnings that “the rule of law, honest vote tallies and orderly succession” are at risk in a second Trump term, he lays out a clear path for a more successful Trump presidency for his supporters the second time around.
Modeling Viktor Orbán’s Illiberal Democracy
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who has been democratically elected twice since 2010, is often criticized by the global media, including Rauch, that claims the conservative leader is governing over a decline in democracy in Hungary.
Although, Rauch admits that Orbán “is not a heavy-handed tyrant,” and “he has not led a military coup or appointed himself maximum leader.” He says the European country “has gone from democracy to democracy-ish” under Orbán. “Combining populist rhetoric with machine politics, he and his party, Fidesz, have rotted Hungarian democracy from within by politicizing media regulation, buying or bankrupting independent media outlets, appointing judges who toe the party line, creating obstacles for opposition parties, and more,” Rauch said.
Trump and his allies are studying Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, hoping to replicating his undermining of democracy (his “illiberal democracy”) should they regain power. https://t.co/f7su7ZQ9NY
— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) September 3, 2022
A second Trump term will likely be modeled after Orbán’s illiberal democracy, according to Rauch. He argued that “the MAGA movement has studied Orbán and Fidesz [a Hungarian political party] attentively” because Orbán was invited to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), and Fox News host Tucker Carlson broadcasted his show from Hungary for a week in 2021. (RELATED: Trump Beats Biden In Key States, 2024 Presidential Polls Show)
Trump and his supporters will use what they have learned from Orbán to “emulate [him] in the American context,” Rauch said. “To simplify matters, set aside the possibility of a stolen or contested 2024 election and suppose that Trump wins a fair Electoral College victory. In this scenario, beginning on January 20, 2025, he and his supporters set about bringing Budapest to the Potomac by increments,” he wrote.
Draining The Swamp Cretins Through Schedule F
A widespread criticism from Trump supporters of the former president’s first term was his personnel decisions. They complain that his picks often seemed to work against his administration’s agenda and that there was never anything done to “clean out the swamp” as Trump had promised while campaigning.
you are on the target, as you’ve heard me say many times. personnel is policy.
— Col. Rob Maness ret. 1776 🇺🇸 (@RobManess) June 20, 2021
Republicans can rest assured that a second Trump presidency would see an end to resistor activists staying in the administration because Trump would “install toadies in key positions,” according to Rauch. “Upon regaining the White House, the president systematically and unabashedly nominates personal loyalists, with or without qualifications, to Senate-confirmed jobs,” he said. (RELATED:’His Speech Was Hatred’: Trump Blasts Biden For Attack On ‘MAGA Republicans’)
At the end of Trump’s first presidency in October 2020, he signed Executive Order 13957, which created a particular classification for federal employees to make it easier to fire entrenched bureaucrats protected by the complicated system.
Creating the Schedule F classification allowed the Executive Branch to transfer almost any government position from its current classification to a Schedule F classification freeing it from Congressional civil servant protections. This change would make these federal bureaucrats essentially at-will employees, and would give the Executive the authority to terminate their employment, as he sees fit.
“While proposed as a means to improve political responsiveness and performance-based accountability, the effort invited a politicization akin to both the U.S. spoils systems and populist regimes that seek to capture control of independent institutions of governance,” warned Georgetown University’s McCourt chair of the McCourt School of Public Policy Donald Moynihan in Feb. 2022.
Many of the constraints on Trump’s authoritarianism were invisible – staff and appointees who simply refused to carry out unethical or illegal actions. It’s almost surely the case that these constraints would loosen in a second term https://t.co/4cV3lWDctd
— Brendan Nyhan (@BrendanNyhan) September 8, 2022
President Joe Biden rescinded Trump’s E.O. after he took office in Jan. 2021, but the left warns that Trump will reinstitute Schedule F on day 1.
“Now that he’s been president, and while he might not have a piece of civil service legislation ready to go, I think if he’s elected, he would actually do something very large and consequential for the civil service system. And I think the big difference is I think he would do it on Day 1, rather than waiting until the last couple of months of his term,” wrote Moynihan.
Rauch’s worries aren’t unfounded. Trump said that Conservatives could see the next Republican president “drain the swamp” from ‘rogue’ federal employees who slowed down their “America first” agenda during his August speech at the America First Policy Institute.
“To drain the swamp and root out the deep state, we need to make it much easier to fire rogue bureaucrats who are deliberately undermining democracy, or at a minimum just want to keep their jobs,” Trump said. “They want to hold on to their jobs. Congress should pass historic reforms, empowering the president to ensure that any bureaucrat who is corrupt, incompetent or unnecessary for the job can be told — did you ever hear this? — “You’re fired? Get out. You’re fired.'”
Trump promised the crowd that “Washington will be an entirely different place.” (RELATED: The IRS Isn’t The Only Agency Being Supersized By Democrats)
Republicans, who agree with Trump’s warning that “everything this corrupt establishment is doing to [him] is all about preserving their power and control over the American people,” will likely see the left’s fear over Schedule F as hope that their populist wish to “drain the swamp” might actually happen in a second Trump presidency.