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What is the 'Deep State'?
Michael Joseph

Aug 14, 2023

Explains the history of a polarizing buzzword.

No mainstream political term brings out more controversy and debate than the ‘deep state’. Many believe all of the nation’s issues can be traced back to the deep state, an army of bureaucrats acting opposite to the best interests of America. Others see it as a far-right dog-whistle, a way to openly discuss their hatred of a group of people they believe are running the country into the ground. All we know for sure is that the general idea of a ‘deep-state’ can be traced back to the 70s with Reagan, and the 50s with Eisenhower. 

In the Reagan era, the deep state was known as Big Government, i.e. an administrative state which over-regulated and over-taxed the population on behalf of liberal causes like combating global warming and the welfare state. In the fifties, it was the Military-Industrial Academic Complex, which President Eisenhower warned about in his farewell speech. Now, these concepts are very politically charged and used as an epithet against political enemies. 

Certainly, the idea that we have a bloated state does have some merit. When it comes to combating drug trafficking on a federal level, we have the FBI, ATF, DEA, DOJ, ICE, DHS, and Border Patrol. Many small government activists ask, “Why have so many agencies and task forces, all dealing with the same overlapping issue?”. 

One can also argue that each of these agencies combats these issues differently. Whereas the ATF comes at the issue from a firearms and explosives perspective, Border Patrol focuses on those who move the product over the border, while the DOJ builds massive federal cases against drug lords’ domestic operations. Still, others will argue that there's too much fluff in the executive branch, what with there being 440 federal agencies.

What is an undeniable fact is that since 1965, federal government spending has skyrocketed, while the amount of federal employees has tanked since 1950, despite even more programs existing than before. The idea of consolidating the bureaucracy would being a daunting task for any statesman, but it would certainly be popular among many on the Right.


“Civilian Federal Employment at Historically Low Level.” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Accessed 14 Aug. 2023.

“Higher Rock Education and Learning, Inc..” Free Online Economics Lessons for Students, Homeschoolers and Teachers, Accessed 14 Aug. 2023.

Jr., Clyde Wayne Crews. “How Many Federal Agencies Exist? We Can’t Drain the Swamp until We Know.” Forbes, 10 Dec. 2021, 

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