The term “Deep State” is bandied about a great deal these days, particularly among the group ungraciously called conspiracy theorists. The term is used to describe a clandestine network or group entrenched in the government that controls state policy behind the scenes, while democratically elected officials are merely figureheads. This may have been what candidate Donald Trump meant by his promise to “drain the swamp” in Washington.
The term originally referred to a secretive Turkish network known as derin devlet, which Mustafa Kemal Atatürk created in 1923 to preserve his government. In the US, the term has been applied to various groups, depending on one’s political persuasion. In the Obama years the Deep State was said to be a group whose primary objective was continuing the Bush/Cheney policies in the Middle East. In 2014 Mike Lofgren, a former congressional aide, defined the Deep State as “a hybrid association of elements of government and parts of top-level finance and industry that is effectively able to govern the United States without reference to the consent of the governed as expressed through the formal political process.” Famous whistleblower Edward Snowden has said, “the Deep State is not just the intelligence agencies, it is really a way of referring to the career bureaucracy of government. These are officials who sit in powerful positions, who don’t leave when presidents do, who watch presidents come and go. They influence policy, they influence presidents.”
In the Trump era the term often refers to a group dedicated to maintaining the Obama-era policies and obstructing the goals of the new administration. It is even alleged that Obama himself is in control of this group.
These alleged “Deep States” have two things in common: they are not elected officials, and they are thought to be in control of the elected government. Well, I have another candidate for the title of “Deep State.” BIG MONEY! These folks are not elected officials, but they buy elected officials by spending some of their billions to get them elected (see http://www.fandangolife.com/blog/2017/3/27/mercer-millions). That the officials they elect do their bidding goes without saying. I submit that Big Money is a force far more powerful than all the faceless bureaucrats, living on their government salary checks, whom conspiracy theorists are so concerned about. Why aren’t conspiracy theorists working to overturn Citizens United? That’s an obvious way to rein in the influence of Big Money in Washington.
Let me share a quote from one of my favorite songwriters, Leonard Cohen. “Everybody knows the dice are loaded . . . everybody knows that the good guys lost . . . the poor stay poor, the rich get rich, That’s how it goes, Everybody knows.” (Always worth a listen. There are more gems in this lyric than those I just quoted: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IfmiKnZi3E).