The Shallow End of the Deep State

I’m not sure whether I have yet written here about why I’m not wild about the newly popular term “deep state,” which has become shorthand for the longer term I and many others have been using for a long time—the “administrative state.” The two terms overlap, but are not essentially the same thing.

The “administrative state” refers to the Progressive constitutionalism that consciously seeks to supplant democratic self-government with rule by experts in permanent agencies, neatly skirting the principle of the separation of powers. The “deep state” is actually a term of foreign origin (usually Turkey) that refers to what the left used to call the “national security state,” that is, a cabal of the military and intelligence communities. It is a curious thing that an idea that once was the province of the left has become the property of the populist right. After all, it used to be the left that hated the FBI; now it’s our side.

The point is, the “administrative state” is a different thing than what is meant, narrowly speaking, by “deep state.” We could fix one without affecting the other.

That is not to say that the idea of the “deep state” is without merit. To the contrary, this revealing tweet from CNN shows why the idea of the “deep state” has gained traction:

All such persons in the FBI who actually think this should be fired forthwith.

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