By Alex Wolfe | Staff Writer
When Attorney General Jeff Sessions opted to fire Andrew McCabe two days before his planned retirement, depriving him of a full pension, nearly 10 million federal employees hung their heads in despair.
For the first time in decades, a career public servant had been dealt an incredibly severe punishment for the sake of partisan politics. In the days that followed, President Trump unsurprisingly celebrated his political victory against an apolitical institution, but the true shock came as politician after politician failed to defend the civil service.
Despite what President Trump might believe, the civil service is comprised of highly educated individuals who are mostly overworked. The Employment Cost Index reports, military salaries have been outpacing civilian salaries for the past 18 years, while those military salaries have been outpaced by private sector salaries.
While veterans have an entire agency devoted to their well-being (which they rightly deserve), retired public servants receive “exorbitant benefits that drain taxpayer money,” according to the National Review. Some civil servants do not risk their lives in the same way as members of the military, yet they fulfill an equally important role in national security.
I would know. My parents are both retired State Department officials (Foreign Service Officers) who served for a combined 63 years in nearly 30 countries around the world. I suspect that if not for some close calls and strong friendships, they would not be enjoying their retirement as it stands.
Throughout the process of their retirement, they’ve repeatedly observed politicians refuse to defend or actively degrade their life’s work as immoral, wasteful and most recently, “swampy.”
Former Director McCabe’s life’s work was stripped away from him, and he was further humiliated along with his wife as a scapegoat for corruption. Somehow, by removing a 21 year FBI employee, the civil service will be magically relieved of its systemic inefficiencies.
The whole situation is a symptom of a growing notion that autocratic leadership is more effective.
Autocrats are certainly more efficient, but lack the capacity to provide legitimate solutions to the evolving and complicated challenges a nation faces. Vilifying the civil service leads politicians to ignore the nonpartisan guidance public servants pride themselves upon providing.
The CIA’s unofficial motto is from the Gospel of John. It reads: “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” It seems that many politicians are actively pursuing their own intellectual shackles by refusing to acknowledge the truth, even when the civil service consistently tries to chase them down with the key.