There is the persistent (important and unanswered) question circulating
Written by Jane Edwards
There is the persistent question circulating, “What the f**k is Trump doing?” I think I might have an inkling – based on Donald Trump’s mesmerism by his own Rasputin, Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.
Did you (outside of the CPAC echo chamber) listen to what Steve Bannon said at the Feb 2017 CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) gathering? After you wade through all the extraneous alt-right, Breitbart bloviation, it seems the single most important thing he said was that the core of Donald Trump’s platform is the “deconstruction of the administrative state.”
“Deconstruction” is a word he got from Jacques Derrida, the French philosopher. Bannon’s use of the word is a pseudo-intellectual corruption of Jacques Derrida’s mostly incomprehensible drivel about the impossibility of discerning the real meaning of written texts.
Derrida wrote that deconstruction is not (among other nouns) a method. “Deconstruction is not a physical altering or dismantling of an administration, it is actively changing the conversation – altering the perception around – around the administration …in a manner that demonstrates that the administration has already dismantled itself.”
The “administrative state” includes not just the office of the President, but also the Vice President, the Executive Office of the President (all the worker drones), and the entire Cabinet – the administrative state includes our system of taxes, regulations and trade pacts, all of which President Trump believes hinders economic growth and intrudes on our sovereignty. Bannon would take it a tad further, saying, “I am a Leninist. Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.” But that was 2014. At the recent CPAC, he walked that scary sentiment back, somewhat.
I suspect most people think Bannon’s use of the term “deconstruction” is something akin to “dismantling,” or even “destroying” the administrative state (especially as seen in light of his previous statement). However, I believe Bannon’s “deconstruction” means turning the administrative state into something so unrecognizable to the public that it ceases to have any real meaning or impact on our society.” Bannon said, “I think the consistent – if you look at these Cabinet appointees, they were selected for a reason and that is the deconstruction.” He is right. The Trump has recruited cabinet secretaries that in earlier days, ascribed no value to – and who are openly hostile to the very agencies they lead.
Let’s look at a just a few who the President chose for his Cabinet. Trump’s appointees – with the exception of Mattis, Kelly, and Tillerson – are the antithesis of the kind of persons one would expect to lead their respective departments. What better way to jump-start the deconstructing progression?
Dr. Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. In his past, Carson likened fair housing to “communism”. Carson’s aide said Carson had no interest in a Cabinet position, because “(Carson) has no government experience, he’s never run a federal agency. The last thing he would want to do was take a position that could cripple the presidency.” Well. According to Bannon’s deconstructionism, that’s precisely the point. Except that it’s the Department of HUD, itself, Bannon envisions crippling.
Betsy “no free lunch” DeVos, Secretary of Education (the person charged with overseeing the free lunch programs at schools). Her plan is in line with Trump’s campaign promise gut or close the Education Department, remarking in an interview that she is “okay with seeing the entire department close” and, later, “It would be fine with me to have myself worked out of a job,”.
Rick Perry, Secretary of Energy, and steward of the United States’ nuclear arsenal. Perry once vowed that, given the opportunity, he would abolish the Department of Energy (whose name he couldn’t recall at the time) – a vow he has since disavowed. However, such a disavowal will have little effect on Bannon’s plan; Bannon has called government support of alternative energy “madness,” and regards global warming as an invention of activists. His conservative website, Breitbart News suggested that the Vatican had been “taken over by Marxists” after Pope Francis urged the world to protect the environment and slow climate change.
Derrida wrote that deconstruction is not (among other nouns) a method: “Deconstruction is not a physical altering or dismantling of an administration. Deconstruction is actively changing the conversation (altering the perception) around the administration…in a manner that demonstrates that the administration has already dismantled itself.” Bingo.
Robert Samuelson, a commentator for The Washington Post, complained: “Even without Trump’s eccentric and questionable behavior, so much is in flux that we’re disoriented. Stripped of familiar and reassuring beliefs, we are increasingly governed by disruptive surprises. This is why I call the present moment the age of disbelief.” Yeah, me too!
This is exactly how Bannon’s deconstruction is done.