The Spectre of Dick Cheney or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Shadow Government
The Real Show Runners
In the wake of the election of Donald J. Trump as the new President-elect of the United States, many are left wondering “what next?”. What initially seemed like a Hillary R. Clinton sho0-in for the presidency and the continuation of left-of-center-right-of-left policies, as laid out by the New Democrats, has suddenly become an era of great uncertainty. Donald Trump’s presidential transition team (as of writing this article) has been mired in controversy and turmoil, all while the President-elect himself has taken an aloof attitude towards governance, opting instead to plan a victory tour of the rust-belt states he won. This leaves many to wonder: is Donald J. Trump going to actually govern?
What we are talking about here is the realization of a decades long project to build a true shadow government that will control the country.
As we have learned from multiple accounts, Donald Trump is unlikely to take any responsibility that would diminish his preeminence as the most gilded human currently alive. That means much of the actual governing responsibility will rest with Mike Pence and the executive cabinet, much of whom are unelected bureaucrats with their own visions of America. What we are talking about here is the realization of a decades long project to establish a true shadow government* that will control the country.
*A point of clarification: the shadow government we are discussing here is not what our friends living in parliamentary democracies call their legislative minority parties, but rather a cohort of unelected bureaucrats who control the levers of power.
The Shadow Government Project
Shadow governments running the country are nothing new, the classic example being Dick Cheney’s administration of the Executive branch under George W. Bush. In fact there have been many infamous shadow governments that have controlled the US in the past, including Halliburton’s executive board under Bush 41, The National Review Editorial Board during Reagan, the Ford-GM automotive cartel during Eisenhower and the Seamstress Lobby under LBJ. However while they have happened before, there has never been an unelected government more powerful than the one we will potentially contend with come inauguration day. While these shadow governments seem nasty and undemocratic, I here by posit that in times of great uncertainty, shadow governments are a comforting reality, that in the presence of an unstable and unfit leader, it is in fact the shadow government that will give guidance and stability to the nation.
In the presence of an unstable and unfit leader, it is in fact the shadow governments that will give guidance and stability to the nation.
To think about how the country might be run in the near future by Mike Pence, the Cheney Era might be a good place to learn from. During Cheney’s administration, massive tax cuts and deregulation of finance led to growth in the economy, and a subsequent economic “downturn”. This path of what seemed like economic ruin was in fact a well executed political maneuver to create a real public desire for liberal policies that would be then laid out in a subsequent administration. Keeping Bush propped up as a strong and charismatic leader was just enough for Cheney’s administration to cover for Bush’s personal reality of incompetence. This kept the country relatively stable, and in the end provided the impetus for Obama to advance liberal policies, such as the Affordable Care Act. Imagine if the nation was truly run by George W. Bush with his free-wheeling free market ideas and his inability to understand complex thought. We might have spent our defense budget on making Jurassic Park a reality and made objectivism our state religion.
Mike Pence: Dick Cheney in Sheep’s Clothing
So under the Trump administration, Mike Pence and his “eccentric” executive cabinet will probably be the true show runners, and that means at the very least the country won’t suddenly default on its debt or invade Mexico for mortar and bricks. In fact many of Trump’s policy proposals laid out during the campaign will probably be lightly chuckled at, and pretend noted for consideration. So long as Trump’s base desires of fame and all things gold plated are fulfilled, Mike Pence and his board of dark hooded figures can get busy running the country in the arcane Victorian manner only Mike Pence can think in. He will usher in his vision of America, one similar to the current one, but just a bit more “Pencier” as he likes to put it. It probably involves a lot more legally mandated funerals for aborted fetuses and Walmarts selling howitzer artillery pieces. Expect clothing decency and blasphemy policy proposals to be at the forefront of domestic policy, and crusades a consideration in foreign policy.
Mike Pence and his board of dark hooded figures can get busy running the country in the arcane Victorian manner only Mike Pence can think in.
In fact, insiders at the Trump transition team tell us they are unsure of whether or not Mike Pence is just an elaborately disguised and deranged Dick Cheney, but are just “going with it cause we’re unsure of a lot around here”. At least we won’t have Trump’s highly controversial infrastructure proposal of literal gold paved streets. Pence’s secret authority is what is giving Congress the confidence to work with the Trump administration because while Pence’s policy proposals are just as weird and strange as Trump’s, at the very least he uses his inside voice when proposing them. So, while Pence’s America may turn out to be just as self aggrandizing and indulgent in psychosexual fanaticism, theocratic authoritarianism and moral depravity, at the very least it’s not Trump’s America.
Rest assured that no matter what happens, Paul Ryan will be there to pick up the pieces.