In Defense of Bureaucracy

The day after Trump was elected, somebody I know shrugged it off and said “Oh, all those things he promised won’t happen, because the system protects itself.” Usually, this would be my train of thought. Horrible things can happen, but usually that worst case scenario that everybody is worried about, particularly in regards to politics, is quite simply never going to happen.

But there is no magic involved in our government. Horrible extremes, whether that extreme is the government taking away everybody’s guns or vaporizing the EPA, are avoided through a system of checks and balances. On every scale, those checks and balances are bureaucracy. 

Bureaucracy is such a dirty word. Nobody wants to be on the side of bureaucracy. Immediately, the word brings to mind long lines at the DMV, a series of phone calls that end in nobody being able to tell you how to get a building permit, and additional (unexplainable) fees on your water bill. Bureaucracy is why it takes so much time for bills to become laws. It’s why “nothing can get done.”

Among all that bureaucratic red tape, though, is what the system has built in to protect the people. It takes years to build a new federally funded road, because without the Environmental Protection Act, wetlands, low-income communities, and endangered species habitats were being destroyed. It takes time for a presidential appointment to be confirmed by congress, because those appointments need vetting for ethics, security, and appropriateness.

The system is supposed to be slow, for everybody’s protection. Mistakes, intentional or unintentional, happen when the process is rushed. Time allows for public comment, it allows for experts to weigh in, it allows a full investigation.

At times, bureaucracy gets out of hand. It is frustrating, but it serves a purpose – even if those in charge of the bureaucratic process don’t understand that process.

But now we have an incoming president that is looking to skip some of these steps. We have a congress that is questioning why these ethical investigations need to happen. Traditions that have held everything together, such as presidential appointments keeping their post until a new appointment can be confirmed by congress, are being disregarded.

The system is only safe if the bureaucracy is allowed to function. Yes, there is some unnecessary red tape, but it should be cut through with a scalpel, not a machete. The reasons for the red tape should be considered, because sometimes, there is far more to the process than your current frustrations.

We aren’t stuck in a position where we have to watch the checks and balances that protect the American government be thrown out the window. We have a voice, and we should encourage proper vetting of political appointments, for the sake of the preservation of “The system.” Let your politicians know that you approve of them stopping to take a breath every now and then, to make sure that we are on the right course.

 

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