A month after President Trump took the oath of office, his chief strategist offered a controversial description of what Americans, including the 2 million career civil servants Trump now leads in the executive branch, could expect from the new president: Every day would be a battle for “deconstruction of the administrative state,” said Stephen Bannon, the man frequently described as the mastermind behind Trump’s nationalist agenda.
Bannon is no longer in the White House, but his remarks at a conservative political conference in February continue to reverberate through government.
Some interpreted Bannon’s comment as a reference to Trump’s classic Republican goals of reducing regulations, cutting taxes and shrinking government. But in a Manichean speech in Warsaw, Poland, in July, Trump warned of a danger “invisible to some but familiar to the Poles: the steady creep of government bureaucracy that drains the vitality and wealth of the people.”
As the Trump era has unfolded, the term “deep state” has come to mean something sinister to some on the far right. More than just signifying an impersonal, inept bureaucracy, it conjures a secretive illuminati of bureaucrats determined to sabotage the Trump agenda.
On the pro-Trump Mark Levin radio show, commentator Dan Bongino decried the ongoing investigation of Trump’s ties to the Russians during the 2016 campaign, saying, “They want a scalp, and believe me when I tell you the deep state is going to get one.”
Trump is being attacked, said a memo from a National Security Council staffer published in August by Foreign Policy, because he represents “an existential threat to cultural Marxist memes that dominate the prevailing cultural narrative.” Those threatened by Trump include “deep state actors, globalists, bankers, Islamists, and establishment Republicans.”