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Biden Can Make It Competence Vs Corruption

June 27th, 2020 by dk

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden promises to restore honor, stability and normalcy to the White House, if he’s elected in November. COVID-19 has restricted what would normally constitute a presidential campaign. Biden is raising money better than he’s raising awareness.

Whether you love our current President or hate him, everybody is talking about Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa. It created high levels of “engagement.” There’s no such thing as bad publicity. News about about Mary Elizabeth Taylor went unnoticed. If the Democrats run a shrewd presidential campaign, you may hear her name often.

Taylor was the assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, after serving the Trump administration and campaign in a variety of other roles. She submitted her resignation the day before the Tulsa rally to protest “comments and actions surrounding racial injustice.” Her letter ended, “I must follow the dictates of my conscience and resign.”

Few others have been so bold in their resignations, though there have been an unprecedented number of them. Pity the poor family of former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. His resignation letter didn’t state that he wanted to spend more time with them.

“Protest resignations” — yes, that’s a thing — have more commonly come from the non-political ranks of the civil service. Many have quit after political appointees arrived with strong ideas about how the professionals should do their jobs.

In many but not all cases, these protest resignations are not based on partisan disagreements. What the exiting employees find objectionable is the incompetence and the corruption. Some have sought whistleblower protections, but not many. Like it or not, Washington, DC operates as a small town. Reputations are not easily repaired.

Trump’s supporters and enablers delight in these resignations. They believe less government is better. Bad government serves their purposes better than good government. Having fewer competent workers thins the bureaucracy. Expertise is always suspect. Extremist on the political right rail against the so-called “deep state.”

They chant “drain the swamp” while the rest of America sees a dangerous brain drain that leaves the federal government unable to function normally. It’s into this breach that Biden can bring the battle. Honor, stability, and normalcy are leaking away, bit by bit.

Biden should announce that any civil servant who resigns under protest in the coming four months will be considered for reinstatement (with seniority restored) once he enters the White House.

How many federal government workers would welcome the opportunity to take a break from government service unless and until competent adults return to lead their departments? You have no idea how dispirited the rank-and-file has become under Trump’s lack of leadership. A short sabbatical would be a very attractive option.

Democrats could characterize the mass exodus as another protest march — this one by professionals choosing competence over corruption.

Freed from their necessarily non-partisan role as government employees, they could speak freely about what they saw. They could work diligently for new leadership. And Biden could keep a running tally of how many people have witnessed how badly government is performing, who want to see things change.


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at

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