Since the formation of our nation we’ve depended on good men and women who worked to make certain our government functioned and provided the service we depend on. From the earliest days of the Post Office to the modern protection offered by the Department of Homeland Security we the people have been served well. They’ve protected us from danger here at home and abroad. They’ve insured that we have what we need in retirement. They’ve provided health care for the poor and food for hungry students.
But alongside this it’s been fashionable to see government employees as stupid and lazy. Full disclosure: my father worked for the government from 1950 to 1988 and my sister has worked for the government since 1984. These irresponsible charges have always annoyed me, but the administration of President Trump has dramatically increased this nonsense. I’ve spoken about his promise to drain the swamp and his belief that career government employees make up a deep state intent on frustrating his agenda. He doesn’t recognize the damage he is causing.
In the course of the interview he was asked this question: “So has your understanding of our bureaucracy changed through writing these stories? You can read the transcript of the entire interview here.
The transcript is verbatim and I’ve cleaned it up for this, but here is what he says:
Oh, my God. I didn’t know what I was going to find when I started knocking on the door of the Energy Department or the Agriculture Department or the Commerce Department. And I turned out having exactly the same experience that political people have when they’re appointed to these jobs running these places and have these – some preconception but vague preconception of what the bureaucrats are like.
This happens over and over again. A new administration comes in. They have kind of a vague contempt for the people who are there. And four years later, they walk out and say those are the most amazing people I’ve ever worked with. I expected to be briefed and informed by these people. I did not expect to be inspired by them. The kind of person who is still working in our government despite all the abuse the government takes is a mission-driven person. They’re not paid well. They’re there because they’re interested in the task. The people in the National Weather Service are people who have had a passion for the weather since they were little kids.
The people in the Department of Energy are scientists who’ve had a passion for their particular science since they were little kids. Essentially they are firefighters in spirit. And there’s something really moving about groups of people who are doing what they’re doing not for money but for mission. They have a purpose in life. And it just jumps off the page. I mean it jumped into my mind dealing with them. And so I came away from it thinking, wow, I can’t believe we as a society have treated this slice of our society – these kinds of people, who are really the best among us, as badly as we have.
I couldn’t have said it better myself.