Analysis (April 2, 2919) Twenty-five staffers in the White House had their clearances approved. Some may be compromised by foreign interests. Let’s be clear, it matters little who is the president, this falls under his (or her) purview. Presidents can override professional carrier staff that tells them that a preferred aide does not qualify for a clearance. However, most presidents listen to staff that tells them that a person could be compromised. There are reasons why these clearances are not given. They range from drug use to sex habits, to connections abroad. Any of these may be used to turn a person against the United States. In other words, they could be bribed. Or in the national security sense, they could be compromised.
This story should have been a scandal. And even ten years ago it would have been. It’s become a symbol of how corrupt the Federal Government is becoming, under the leadership of Donald Trump. The reality is that the party of national security does not care. The other party is speaking now because they do not have the White House. The rolls were inverted during the Hillary Clinton Email scandal, the one the media mostly missed. This is the emails that she shared with people with no security clearances, while Secretary of State. That scandal never became one either, and it is for the same systemic reasons this one will not rise beyond a few headlines.
We have to ask if our national elites are happy with the corruption and what it says about the country. Or far more darkly, what if they do not care? And if they do not, why are they doing this, or pretending when they do not hold power.
There are reasons doe national elites to mostly ignore the dark implications. They speak to the transformation of the American political system from something familiar to a post-imperial order that has little to do with the last two hundred years of history. We are not talking of democracy at this point or transparency in government. Nor did this start with the Trump administration, before I hear from fans on both sides who like to accuse the other of the greatest of evils. This move towards plutocracy started back in the 90s and tracks with developments around the world. This is the rise of the technocrats who know better than the people. It is a form of what happened, to a certain degree, under the John F. Kennedy Administration. This is the mentality of the best and the brightest, who took us down the path that led to the Vietnam war.
However, there are important differences from the JFK years to the present situation. This way of thinking started to take shape during the Clinton years in the United States, John Blair in the United Kingdom and the Presidencies of Carlos Salinas de Gortari and Ernesto Zedillo in Mexico, for example. They were not isolated to one nation or one political system.
What we saw was the rise of a technocratic class. They did not care about the input of those not educated in the same schools, and under the same economic theories as they were. Ergo echo chambers quickly formed, with huge blind spots. These people ignored the needs of their own people in exchange for the rise of the present form of globalization. It may even be seen as the rise of a corrupt global glass of technocrats and bureaucrats. This was the origin of the Washington Consensus. To be clear, globalization itself is not a bad idea, but the form it's taken has the seeds of its own destruction.
Why? It led to the resentment of working-class people who were left behind by the new global economy. Whether these were employees of American factories who saw their jobs displaced by mostly robotics, and export, or Mexican electrical workers when the company was sold to private investors, or British workers who saw the competition of migrants from the rest of Europe. This led to the rise of resentment politics. It is not the first time, and the interwar period saw this as well.
In the United States resentment politics, fit with right-wing populists, and conspiracy theories, such as the deep state. Both are useful in distracting potential voters from the massive corruption that is taking place in plain sight. The fact that people who could be compromised by foreign actors are getting clearances is a symptom of this situation. It is a worrisome one, don’t get me wrong. But it should raise other questions. Who is this elite working for? Clearly, it is not for the working class it supposedly serves.
This explains many trends we are living through. They range from government practices, lack of transparency, and not fulfilling promises that were made. Yes, the Affordable Care Act, for example, has issues. But taking health Care away from over 20 million people is not a solution. However, health insurers will love it. Not having to provide insurance to people with cancer is good for profits. Diabetics are costly to the business model. Nor is cutting the taxes of the top earners, while in-effect raising the taxes of those at the bottom. All these practices are transferring wealth to the plutocracy and making life harder for those at the bottom.
Nor is the media explaining any of this in a way that connects the dots. It keeps speaking of collusion for example, and how that was never found, never mind that collusion is not a crime under the US criminal code. However, conspiracy is, and that was never explained. Why? there must be a reason for this. We are talking of news organizations who have lawyers on retainer. In fact, some of their lawyers are on TV every night. Don’t tell me they were unaware of this. If I, a lowly reader, understood this years ago, why didn’t these people seem to explain this?
It is time to start speaking of corruption at the highest levels of government. It is time because we need this to return the country to a semblance of democracy. I expect Democrats to adopt this resentment politics which started under Speaker Newt Gingrich. It is far easier in some ways than implementing transparent policies that will help people. It is easier to speak of the other than to explain deep level policies.
I admit it is also easier to do this than to explain the role of Democrats in the rise of this political environment that is quite toxic. They had something to do with this as well. It is not both sides do it, but the fact that the country has moved away from meritocracy and towards a new elite ruling class. Incidentally, there are problems with meritocracy as well. That is fodder for another essay. Having the right college degrees (explaining some of the scandals), and the right connections mean that you are part of this globe-trotting elite.
And if you think the current White House is immune to this, you are dreaming. They are the textbook example of this crisis. The president is giving security clearances to his friends and allies as if they were candy. Why? They are part of that elite that travels around the world. And chiefly, they will make him money. That is what he cares about. But he is hardly alone.