“What Should the GOP Do Now?” was an event that involved remarks by one of the Claremont Institute D.C. fellows, Theodore “Theo” Wold, J.D. Claremont.org indicates the event occurred on Nov 16, 2022. Hillsdale College, the Center for Renewing America, the American Conservative, and the Conservative Partnership Institute were involved in the forum. Per their webpage, it included 13 featured speaker/presenters. The event was held at Hillsdale College, which is known among other things for not taking a dime of federal money so that they can maintain their independence from the dictates that go along with those taxpayer funded dollars. Per Claremont’s website: ”Theo Wold, Claremont Institute Washington Fellow, former Deputy Assistant to President Trump.”
In their YouTube video posted below, an introduction for Wold by Hillsdale’s Matthew Mehan is occurring at about the 1:25 mark, and moments later, Wold begin’s his talk.
The transcript generated by YouTube is substantially similar to the one “lightly edited” by The Federalist. The Federalist published Wold’s statements under the heading of “Big Government” on 1.16.2023. The Federalist and/or the Masthead bracketed in the words edited in for clarity. But some of those were not specifically spoken by Wold, but where rather implied. The headline and subheadings are apparently added by the Federalist as well in what follows, as Wold opened with the words “I come from the western United States” in the event video above. The verbal “ehms” and “ahms” are edited out of this transcript. The audio quality for Wold’s remarks in the video above improved at about the 1:27:20 mark. An occasional typo in the Federalist transcript are corrected in what follows.
Republicans Are Failing Unless They Are Disrupting, Discrediting, And Destroying The Bureaucracy
I come from the western United States, and we love our folk tales out there. So, I want to start with a folk tale.
There was a presidential candidate who had something of an uncertain policy agenda. His supporters said he wanted to reform Washington. His detractors said he really just wanted revenge. And during the course of his campaign for the presidency, this candidate charged his opponents with fraud and stealing elections. Then, on the campaign trail, this candidate for the presidency, he was famous for saying he was going to initiate these sweeping reforms of Washington. He’s gonna either throw people in jail or he was going to kick all the b-st-rds out.
He was going to go after officials high and low for public corruption, and malfeasance, and for [sort of] an arrogant contempt for the rule of law. Now, unfortunately, haste and probably some naïveté about the real Washington confused his purpose in the main, and, depending on who you ask, he left the civil service stronger and more powerful than it was before he even started his campaign.
Now, Gen. Jackson was right to confront the civil service. Gen. Jackson was right to say he was going to purge Washington of bureaucrats high and low. [And] Gen. Jackson was probably right to accuse John Quincy Adams of playing around with elections.
But I think, as is often the case with conservative attempts at reforming Washington, Gen. Jackson’s ideal was right but the execution was lacking. [So,] Gen. Jackson’s idea was essentially an attempt to make the implicit link between electoral politics and the governance of the regime explicit.
Making the Bureaucracy Responsive to Voters
As the general said at various points, “You can’t keep a political organization together without patronage. The loyalty of those who fought with you in a campaign, your supporters who bled for you … they surprisingly expect to actually participate in governance if you’re successful and they want to be rewarded for that. What better way to affirm the support and loyalty of your team than make them the postmaster in Lewiston, Maine?” In execution, most historians will say that Jackson failed.
For well over a century, we’ve all been told the progressives’ folk tale about the Jacksonian revolution: that he didn’t really get rid of any of the bureaucracy, but what he did do was he brought in a rabble, and [that he] created the spoils system. In this telling, the nation is essentially held captive by the crooks, by the cronies, until the heroes arrive: when the progressives ransom democracy for the passage of this little statute called the Pendleton Act.
The Pendleton Act (and all of its progeny that follow up through Jimmy Carter’s 1978 civil service reform), had essentially one goal, which was to insulate the civil bureaucracy from political accountability — to “protect” civil servants. Now, I think in fairness we would all agree that Jackson’s idea did fail. He had a novel concept: what he called a rotation in office, essentially term limits for civil bureaucrats.
We’ve never really come back to that concept. We want to term [limit] the actual democratically accountable leaders of the nation and leave the permanent Mandarin class (which some folks in this room belong to here in Washington) as an occupying army. The idea was good, and Jackson would say, “I don’t want the civil bureaucracy to remain a species of property for these people.”
Protecting Bureaucrats from Accountability
But even by the numbers, Jackson only took out about 10 percent of the then-existent civil service, which by even the modest standards of 19th-century America, 10 percent was insufficiently small.
[Now, as I said,] the progressives in their folk tale (and you [can] open up any textbook or flip through Wikipedia and they’ll tell you), the Pendleton Act solved all these problems. So, gone are the days when bureaucrats govern with partisan prejudice. Gone are the days when bureaucrats ignore with contempt the requests, [or] orders of partisan political appointees from a different persuasion. [And] today, thankfully 90 percent of the federal civilian workforce, which is now close to about 5 million people, [they] are protected from their politically accountable bosses.
[So,] one of the things I want to make clear today is that the Pendleton Act and its progeny, including the 70-day Civil Service Reform Act, are in large part responsible for the growth of the administrative state. They move together.
The Administrative State Didn’t Start with Woodrow Wilson
Let me tell you one more historical anecdote here to frame this. Back in 1838, Congress, reacting to the news cycle, just like it does today, was confronted with a rash of steamboat boiler explosions on some of the most important navigable rivers in America. [So,] the people rightfully demanded action, asking, “What are you gonna do about all these steamboats [blowing] up?”
Congress in their wisdom created a licensing regime at the Department of Treasury. It required safety measures, [including] two-year inspections by a select list of appointed engineers that were named by U.S District Court judges. [It] proved inadequate to [help solve] the problem, so Congress came back in 1852 and created the Steamboat Inspection Service. SIS was headed by nine presidentially appointed regional inspectors who were empowered to propose regulations to the secretary of the Treasury but [they had] only implement a regulatory authority. The secretary would propose the actual governing regulations.
But [that] didn’t work either, so in 1871 they said, “You know what? We need a central office, we need more than just presidentially appointed personnel, we need regulators, and not just implementing a regulatory authority. We need you to have governing regulatory authority.”
Eventually, all of these employees were placed under Civil Service protection under President Arthur. The result, wrote a recent legal scholar, was to combine something essentially of the New Deal — an Independent Regulatory Commission over steamboats — with Great-Society health and safety regulation by delegating administrative authority to a multi-member board that combined licensing, rulemaking, and adjudicatory functions.
Now, I know this anecdote is going to strike some of you to the core because we also love to tell a story on our side which is, “Well, none of this stuff happened until Woodrow Wilson.” I mean, the 19th century was great and it was truly a conservative republic. Well, it turns out the historical record would indicate otherwise. We’ve had a problem with federal bureaucrats since the 19th century.
If a Plan Requires More Bureaucracy, Oppose It
I think one of the things I want to leave you here with is that, [look], Cass R. Sunstein is right: Democratic citizenship in a large pluralistic multi-ethnic society like ours is difficult. It’s difficult to administer. But what you have to understand is what’s on offer from the left today is, as Sunstein says, “The larger the state necessarily the larger the bureaucracy to administer it, and the bureaucracy must contain experts. That’s just the trade-off you have to have for the kind of society we want to live in.”
I would say instead that the deconstruction of the administrative state begins essentially for us as conservatives intellectually. [So,] tangible deconstruction is really only possible if conservatives begin by deconstructing the mindset of expertise. “Rule by experts” is foreign to our constitutional separation of powers. It’s incompatible with democratic accountability and legitimacy, and it’s proven itself to be a failure.
[Now,] if you weren’t convinced by that fact four years ago, I think everyone in this room can agree that public health officials (the ultimate “experts”) are also now the ultimate encapsulation of the failure of professionalized expertise.
[So,] the political branches and the states must be returned to their law-making power. Everyone can kind of agree on that. But they also have to relearn how to express confidence in that power. [So,] we must accept that things simply will not be done by a smaller administrative state.
Some things will have to be thrown aside, and that’s the point. Policies that can be achieved only through a vast expansive administrative tyranny are not worth accepting. To the extent that they deserve to be pursued, they’ve got to be housed in branches or levels of government sufficiently responsive to the people and their elected representatives such that such tyranny is then averted.
The Administrative State Is the Most Powerful Fourth Branch of Government
[So,] let me give you just a closing couple of thoughts here. [Look,] the unitary executive is a myth. It’s a myth! Presidential power largely exists in two forms: fixing a signature to documents, and rhetoric. The power to reverse prior actions taken by a chief executive also requires affirmative action.
That’s an important point, as we learned in the Trump White House. You’ll recall this little program called DACA [Deferred Action for Child Arrivals, amnesty for younger illegal migrants] was created [with] an internal sort of essentially DHS letterhead by the secretary of Homeland Security. [Implied, the letter basically went,] “Dear Barack, I want to create a new program. Signed, Janet.”
Well, we thought that it’s essentially equivalent to a presidential memorandum, that there’s some underlying rules here. Basically, we can undo a memo with another memo.
But Article 3 said, “Not so fast! To undo a memo from your predecessor, you’re going to have to do a full rulemaking and, oops! Full rule-making is going to take more time than you’ve got on the clock. Better luck next time.”
So, an affirmative action is required to undo essentially a negative or unconstitutional action. There are real limits to political rule, which I think Mr. Clark and I both experienced in our own ways both in the White House and at DOJ.
Designed for Dysfunction
I’ll just share one quick anecdote: When I went over the Department of Justice I was told, “Look, the only way you’re really going to be able to stay in communication with leadership and your component attorneys (my office had 76 attorneys I was responsible for supervising) is through your phone, your cell phone. That’s how we all communicate.”
I replied, “Oh okay, great! Where do I get the cell phone?”
They told me, “We don’t know. But someone’s going to come by your office and let you know.”
Okay, two days, [no] cell phone. Eventually, a personnel person came by and said, “You’ve missed all these meetings, do you have your cell phone?”
I said, “No, I don’t have a cell phone, and no one knows who the guy is who has the cell phones.”
[Implied ‘They told me,’] “Oh, it’s downstairs!”
So, I went downstairs, got the cell phone — the actual hard tech. And then I was told, “Well, the only way you can log into this cell phone is [implied: through] your secretary. She has that information — all the login passwords and things of that kind.”
“Where is she?” [implied: I asked].
[Implied: they said,] “Well, because of Covid protocols she’s not coming to the office.”
“Well, how do I get a hold of her?”
“Well, the directory is available on your cell phone.”
Why Political Appointees Can’t Rein in the Bureaucracy Alone
[Look,] the other thing is that we’re often enamored with this idea that we’ll create these beachheads, that we’ll do all these lists. Everyone in D.C.’s got a list, [right] where they’ll say, “I want so-and-so for secretary of this, and I want so-and-so to be head of personnel office.”
[And] one thing I thought was really funny was a while ago there was a memo that was published. It was leaked to the press and the memo contained this [like] “loyalty oath.” They were asking all these appointees [if] would they sign up for the loyalty oath. The loyalty oath was written by this 23-year-old kid and the press was excoriating this kid and saying, you know, “Gosh, this is so partisan! This is some kind of Soviet thing. Who are these kids? Why are they even in charge of presidential personnel?”
I’m actually not talking about Johnny McEntee. [Because] this was done in the George W. Bush administration, the same thing. Which just shows essentially the paucity of our ideas. We’ll actually find people who are ideologically committed and loyal to the chief executive elected by the people by making them sign a loyalty oath. That’s how we’ll do it!
It was frustrated under [implied: George] W. Bush and obviously, it was frustrated in the same under Trump. There are no new ideas on our side about ensuring that the political appointees are actually accountable to the chief executive they report to.
Political Appointees Are Vastly Outnumbered and Outgunned
Another point on political appointees that you’ve got to keep in mind is that they are essentially Army Rangers operating deep behind enemy lines. When you’re surrounded, it takes a certain type of temperament, a certain type of real courage to essentially tell the people who run your operation, “You know what? That’s great. I’m going to ignore you.”
Most people don’t have that temperament, so what they say when they’re surrounded by “the experts” is, [so what they say is] “Right, so if I ignore you, I won’t actually be able to do the job I was hired for. And when the White House calls and asks for X, Y, and Z, I’m going to say, ‘I don’t have that’ because the information’s been withheld, the document hasn’t been prepared, or I don’t even know what I’m talking about.”
Most people in that instance say, “You know what? You guys are the experts. You tell me what to do.” The political appointee then is captured by the 60 or 70 attorneys or administrators that supposedly report to them. and that’s to say nothing of the political appointees. Because in the Jacksonian sense, this is still around: The political appointees who come into an agency or Department and know nothing about anything. They just happen to be bundlers or friends of a campaign manager or associates of the president prior to his election.
Priority No. 1: Take Out the Bureaucracy
The last thing I’ll just say really quick is [to give you and idea] for those of you who actually advise members of Congress or senators. There was a recent celebration at the institution which is still called publicly the University of California at Berkeley (which is not really much of a university anymore). Professors Lee Raiford and Ula Taylor gave a presentation on Berkeley’s purchase of a whole tranche of documents from J. Edgar Hoover’s tenure as director of the FBI. The documents are largely focused on the counterintelligence program, which was known as “Cointelpro.”
The presentation from the professors in why Berkeley was interested in this tranche of documents was that it supposedly was confirmation of the systemic racism of the FBI from its inception through the duration of Director Hoover’s tenure. For my purposes, I think what’s fascinating is how they highlighted this line from an internal memo that Hoover authored to field agents where he said, “The obligation you have is to disrupt, discredit, and destroy the Black Panther movement.”
The advice I would give any of you who are advising members of Congress when you go to stage what are otherwise meaningless Kabuki-theater hearings [is this]. When you want to exercise oversight by asking the bureaucracy to provide the information that will then allow you to exercise your oversight authorities — unpack that one: The very people you’re supposed to be controlling are the ones you’re dependent upon for information — when all that’s happening, the mantra that you should have in mind is: We are failing unless we are disrupting, discrediting, and destroying these people.
[And] until we adopt the Jacksonian approach, which is to throw the b-st-rds out — all of them — we will still be living in the progressive folk tale. ##
Additional Information with More Masthead on MHProNews Analysis and Commentary in Brief
President Andrew Jackson was a Democrat. Trump is a Republican but used to be a Democrat and an independent. Let’s sum up what Wold shared and which the Federalist helped illustrate by turning his talk into an article with topical headers. In Wold’s view, it would be fair to say the following.
- The problems with the lack of accountability of the administrative state, i.e.: the federal bureaucracy, pre-dates President Woodrow Wilson (D). What is not detailed, but is implied, is that conservatives are led to believe that the rise of the woes of how America left its constitutional track go back further than Wilson and the legal and other changes that occurred in that timeframe.
- To some degree, that means the history that’s been taught is at best incomplete and marked by certain errors.
- Wold uses these various anecdotes to say that merely changing the president is insufficient. The bureaucracy must be reigned in, ‘term limited,’ and made accountable to the people who are accountable to we the people.
- It is worth mentioning that Wold cleverly opened with an anecdote about President Jackson (D) without initially using his name, so his listeners may have thought he was speaking about deposed President Trump. Wold is clearly suggesting that history may not precisely repeat, but that there are echoes in times past that are similar to what has occurred more recently or is taking place now.
- The Federalist/Wold are implying that if Republicans, who posit themselves as being the more constitutional and limited government political party, do not address the issue of a largely unaccountable bureaucracy, the problems associated with unelected bureaucrats will not be solved.
Those points are Wold’s. This was roughly a 15-minute talk, and there is only so much that can be said in that length of time. Wold’s storytelling method is useful to bring the listener/reader in, who must then unpack the gist of what he has said.
MHProNews has for some time made a range of points that applies to our affordable manufactured home profession, but is not limited to it. Let’s outline those.
- In keeping with the report linked below, through facts, evidence, and editorial commentary, MHProNews has pointed out that the truth of American history is often distorted to suit a political narrative. Several examples, linking the past to the present, are shown in the report linked below.
Carlson: Joe Biden’s Being Shafted – ‘Knives Out’ – by D.C.’s Powers, Historic Insights on Top News Show, But Report Has Hits and Misses – Facts & Analysis; plus MHVille Stocks, Market Update
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- What is unstated by Wold/the Federalist are the influences and the impact of the Iron Triangle. The moneyed powers wield influence over both unelected bureaucrats and elected officials. Their impact on our profession, but essentially all others too, is examined in part in the article linked below. Following the money trail and the various agendas are an essential to understanding the causes and thus the possible cures to the problems.
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MHLivingNews and MHProNews stand essentially alone in ‘following the money trail’ in MHVille trade media when it comes to numerous issues that impact the manufactured housing industry and the homeowners of manufactured homes. That’s particularly so for those living in land-lease manufactured home communities.
- The problems of members of the administrative state (a.k.a. the deep state, the permanent bureaucracy, etc.), elected officials including members of Congress, and the money powers getting into alignment is an apt way to look at the so-called Iron Triangle. But there are powers that citizens have beyond their occasion election votes (depending on your state: once a year, or every two or four years, etc.). Some of those are explored in the reports below the Iron Triangle illustration.
Former HUD/FHA Trump Admin’s Brian Montgomery Manufactured Housing Exposé – Trump Derangement Syndrome, Conflicts of Interest, Revolving Door, Iron Triangle Case Study Analysis; plus Manufactured Home Stock Updates
“I would say I have no intention of retiring anytime soon. So, I’m going to keep working. We’re going to probably stand up a consulting firm with some of my former colleagues at HUD and at FHA,” former HUD Deputy Secretary Brian Montgomery told RMD in February 2021. DSNews said …
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It is worth noting that Wold spoke about ESG in 2022 as well.
- The corporate media and the power of big tech are also essential for understanding how such issues can persist for generations. News headlines often turn into ‘history.’ People may trust a news item, yet, the claims made in a story may later prove to be inaccurate. So, if the headlines and reports are incomplete or misleading, then the history itself becomes distorted. Actions based on those reports are then likely to be as errant as the report was. As an example, Wold mentioned Wikipedia. A popular initial notion behind the internet was to digitize all information, and then to make it as widely available as possible. However noble that goal, what the censorship, throttling, demonetization, editorial slant or bias, and other tactics deployed by big tech firms – sometimes in conjunction with certain legacy media brands – makes finding the truth harder. While our sites are not focused on history, we do produce some historic insights in order to better serve readers as they seek to navigate reality in search of solutions.
Exposed by Harvard Grad Dr Robert Epstein Interview on Google's True Power, Massive Influence on Business, Public Policy, More - 'The Creepy Line' Deux Viewpoint for Affordable Manufactured Housing
As years of reports on this platform has systematically documented, there are several major companies, conglomerates, and so called 'nonprofit organizations' that have significant influence over the everyday and political choices that you and your neighbors are making. Among them in a larger than normal degree is Google, which Harvard University graduate and respected psychologist Dr. Robert Epstein, Ph.D.
- Striking near the heart of Wold’s analysis, is the report linked below. When federal officials are admitting that their agency and members of both major parties have talked a good game for 50 years but have failed to implement the solutions that they all know are needed, that’s a stunning admission. For those who want to make the claim that bigger government run by ‘experts’ works, it should be obvious that it is simply not so. Who says? In the instance carefully unpacked below, HUD’s own researchers.
Affordable Housing, Conventional Housing, Mobile Home, Manufactured Home, and Modular Housing Conundrum - What U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Research Revealed
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There is certainly more that could be said, but for the sake of bringing this analysis to a conclusion, let’s once again sum up.
Wold/the Federalist/Claremont’s event has provided a useful launching point for an important discussion. It would be incomplete to say that reigning in the administrative state/bureaucracy a.k.a. the so called “deep state” is enough. It is important, but it is not by itself sufficient.
Reforms are being suggested via a constitutional “Article 5” (Article V) Convention of the States (CoS). To the extent that they address federal issues, such a convention would need to consider solutions to hold sway over the administrative state/bureaucracy. Perhaps a combination of term limits, civil and/or criminal penalties for violations of constitutional provisions and rights are in order for members of the civil service. While that certainly applies on paper now, the evidence-based claim can be made that it has not stopped years of unconstitutional behavior. Nor has it stopped bureaucrats from deliberately failing to enforce Congressionally enacted bills that were then signed into law.
There is no replacement for an active and engaged citizenry.
Citizens must also be fully informed of their rights, obligations and duties.
The middle ground between socialism and big government, never intended by the founders, or runaway corrupt and crony capitalism, which they also opposed, must be sought and maintained.
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Decades and generations have slipped by. To bring these various threads into focus may take a few hours of reading over the course of several days. But what is that modest investment in time compared to the years that led to this troubled moment in U.S. history? What are a few hours or days of reading to prepare for action that could bring a system that is supposed to serve the many (vs. just a few insiders) through equal and just application of fair laws?
There is no substitute for such learning. Armed with accurate past and present insights, solutions that could bring perhaps 60 to 80 percent of the population together in support of a mutually favorable agenda can emerge.
As a relevant side note, at the time this report is being written, the runaway #1 report for January 2023 is the one linked below. Democrat Robert Reich stresses the importance of pressing antitrust efforts. It was a theme from the Trump era too. ICYMI, don't. If you read it, read it again. Wold does not touch on this, but it is absolutely relevant to the foundational issues of what has gone wrong and how a keen nonpartisan solution is hiding in plain sight.
See each of the related reports to learn more. Framing it all is should be the ancient but timeless wisdom of ora et labora, prayer and work. The founders studied, prayed, planned and fought. We too must do the same to secure the blessings of liberty for our time and to prepare to hand it off to future generations. ###
Kovach was reportedly the first freshman to earn the coveted Lottinville Award in history at the University of Oklahoma. Kovach earned other awards in history, which was his major. He minored in business and went on to several decades working in the manufactured housing industry, including as an owner, manager, and industry expert consultant. Kovach and his wife Soheyla are the co-founders of MHProNews/MHLivingNews. Their work as the largest and most-read publishers in "MHVille" has been widely acknowledged by friends and opponents alike.
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Stay tuned for more of what is 'behind the curtains' as well as what is obvious and in your face reporting that are not found anywhere else in MHVille. It is all here, which may explain why this is the runaway largest and most-read source for authentic manufactured home “News through the lens of manufactured homes and factory-built housing” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (Affordable housing, manufactured homes, reports, fact-checks, analysis, and commentary. Third-party images or content are provided under fair use guidelines for media.) (See Related Reports, further below. Text/image boxes often are hot-linked to other reports that can be access by clicking on them.)
By L.A. "Tony" Kovach - for MHProNews.com.
Tony earned a journalism scholarship and earned numerous awards in history and in manufactured housing.
For example, he earned the prestigious Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied history and business management. He's a managing member and co-founder of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.
This article reflects the LLC's and/or the writer's position, and may or may not reflect the views of sponsors or supporters.
Connect on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach
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