Conservatives are fond of accusing progressives of using the ends to justify backhanded means — heaven forbid I absolve them of that noble and necessary charge — but the means such ideologues pursue are frequently indistinguishable from the ends desired.
For instance, the administrative agency ostensibly meant to “solve” a niche problem in society is far more likely to make itself a fixture on the expansive list of permanent government bureaucracies that give salaried jobs to sociology majors at taxpayer expense than it is to put a significant dent in the problem it was initiated to solve.
The central planning, kangaroo justice, and clerical bloat caused by the growth of the administrative state all do more to subvert America’s constitutional norms in pursuit of European collectivism than “solving” the problem ever could.
All of which amounts to a cheap caricature of progressive motives — I lack the requisite piety to feel deeply ashamed of that — but it nevertheless captures something in the leftist ethos that seeks Progress™ before progress.
President Trump, the once-liberal reality show personality who now despises bureaucracy with a Goldwater-ian tenacity, has been the avatar of a decades-old conservative infatuation with reversing the subversive creep of the administrative state. By all accounts, it has been markedly successful: analysts project 4% GDP growth this quarter, citing Trump’s tax and regulatory policy as catalysts in the economic boom.
What’s more, Americans are freer; vast administrative bureaucracy had, before this administration. sidled further into the lives of ordinary citizens than at any time in our nation’s history, and the utter unaccountability of regulatory agencies before Congress had allowed the state to intrude into the most basic modalities of private citizens’ lives without consulting first their elected representatives.
The proliferation of “experts” and the culture of “scientific governance” predated the Obama administration (in Mark Levin’s telling, it began in the Wilson administration or even earlier), but the economic success and liberties now experienced speak to how onerous and burdensome Obama-era regulatory measures were.
The president might be on the precipice of presiding over a quarter of 4% economic growth, and his deregulatory agenda is no small contributor to that success.