What is the “shadow government” and how does its conduct threaten our nation?


It is unmistakably clear that our constitutional republic faces opposition from an ever-expanding and ever-ramifying network of individuals and groups that are prepared to subvert the Constitution, the rule of law, and our national security interests in order to advance their own ideological precommitments.  


One way to think of this network is a shadow government, a metaphor that has attained a progressively larger public profile over the past couple years. This network denotes individuals and groups bound together by a common ideological worldview that takes precedence over norms of democratic governance.


To understand this issue more intelligibly, it is useful to define the term shadow government. Several related ideas and concepts undergird this term.


First, the term shadow government issues forth from the notion of a shadow cabinet. The term shadow cabinet originated out of parliamentary forms of government wherein the losing party in an election campaign appoints members of its party to “shadow” officials appointed by the ruling party.  Members of the shadow cabinet are selected by party leaders as “an alternative government–in–waiting” to represent the party’s own political interests, a process that is advanced by publicly critiquing the policy agenda of the party in power.


Second, in our non-parliamentary system, the idea of a shadow government, secret government, or invisible government signifies that real and actual political power resides or ought to reside, not with elected representatives, but with private individuals, government bureaucrats, judges, and elites, who exercise power and influence behind the scenes in order to bend the so-called arc of justice to favor their preferences. Power, in this view, is to be wielded by individuals who are linked by an overarching ideological agenda committed to an expansion of the administrative state. This viewpoint is grounded in the proclivity of progressives to delegate power to unaccountable experts outside of the scrutiny and influence of democratic institutions. That is, experts exercise power beyond the reach of the Constitution and democratically elected representatives including the President and Congress.


Third, properly appreciated, shadow government proponents maintain that the official elected government is, and ought to be, subservient to its shadow, which holds or ought to hold, true  Executive power. Shadow government advocates include members of the administrative bureaucracy. They believe that the government, or at least certain levers of government, ought to be secretly controlled by elites who wish to remain cagey about their desire to manipulate policy, that is, until one of their chosen representatives assumes presidential power. 


Fourth, in contemporary terms, the notion of a shadow government can be linked to the concept of a shadow party, a recent development that even worries the Left.


Many progressive politicos worry particularly about an organization called Organizing for America (OFA), an Obama-linked group that has led the fight against the Trump Administration.


OFA represents the fact that many Obama loyalists have zero faith in state political party  organizations and seek to create independent groups largely controlled by insiders who  do not necessarily publicly state their positions on a raft of issues.


In addition, informal links have surfaced between Obama loyalists, outsiders, and members of the administrative state, including members of the deep state bureaucracy located within America’s intelligence community. Consistent with this intuition, Bryan Dean Wright, a Democrat and former CIA operative, argues that some of America’s spies owe a greater allegiance to a partisan agenda than the Constitution as part of their zealous opposition to the conservative agenda. 


As a consequence, it is apparent that disloyal operatives are prepared to leak classified information in order to serve their own goals and objectives.


For example, as the ACLJ has reported previously:


While opponents of President Trump have become emboldened in the wake of General Flynn’s resignation as the National Security Adviser, and while the media has reveled in a frenzy of self-righteous outrage that conceals its glee, it is important to observe that his resignation was sparked by leaked information coming from unelected bureaucrats within our nation’s intelligence apparatus, seemingly provoked by their deep distaste for the new Administration. Even more ominously, some of these bureaucrats are perhaps motivated by their loyalties to the Obama Administration.


All Americans who are committed to the rule of law, irrespective of their own political affiliation, ought to mobilize to oppose the growth and expansion of a shadow government, a move that includes the disclosure of classified information in violation of the law. The ACLJ has filed numerous Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to discover why Obama officials, including former Attorney General Lynch and James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence, changed the rules to expand the number of individuals who could access confidential nonpublic information a mere 17 days before the end of the Obama Administration. This move facilitated leaks of classified information that culminated in General Flynn’s

resignation.


Bureaucrats, including Obama loyalists, have sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution, irrespective of their views of the Trump Administration. If they want to oppose his policies, there is no reason why they cannot resign and launch a full-scale public campaign against such policies as part of the democratic process. They should resign rather than engage in the kind of insubordination made infamous by former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates’s refusal to enforce President Trump’s lawful Executive Order.


Allowing unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats to control policy threatens our nation. The United States was built on democratic procedure, which holds leaders accountable for their actions. In order to prevent a political leader from overstepping their authority, the Constitution created checks and balances, where “the government[’s] several constituent parts may, by their mutual relations, be the means of keeping each other in their proper places.”


Allowing anyone, who has not been properly elected, to have power and control over the government disregards the democratic process and the Constitution because constitutional checks and balances are ineffective when operatives fail to follow proper political procedures.  A shadow government has the potential to destroy the safeguards that were carefully implemented by the Founding Fathers. These safeguards were grounded in the fact that openness and awareness within a constitutionally prescribed political process is the best prevention against tyranny.


Federal officials, from the President all the way down to the lowest-level of bureaucrats, owe their paramount duty and loyalty to the Constitution, not partisanship. The future of the republic depends on full compliance by all federal officials with their constitutional duty. The shadow government must end now.