Stuck in the Swamp: A Survival Guide for Civil Servants

We’re your neighbors.  We are here to uphold the country’s laws and the Constitution.  We serve US taxpayers and citizens.  And that’s a problem for Donald Trump.

Trump and his loyalists have declared war on America’s public servants.  This affects all of us.  In other countries, political leaders stack the deck in favor of their family, friends and cronies throughout government offices.  In this country, public servants have long been insulated from political pressure by laws and policies.  In return, public servants are constrained from using their positions to influence voters or elections.  This system serves the public interest, and prevents misuse of power.  But now it’s under fresh and daily assault.  In addition to pressures on the job, civil servants are facing public and online harassment (Breitbart News is in the forefront of this, sharing hit lists of bureaucrats). So Indivisible groups around the area are providing tools, resources and workshops to help our friends in the public service continue to do their jobs with integrity.

We were grateful for this article on the importance of civil service, in Foreign Policy Magazine which departed from the magazine’s usual subject area.  We’re just going to quote from it and encourage readers who don’t work for government to please read the whole article, and think about the importance of showing your support for your neighbors in public service!

From the FP article:

“The United States civil service can be an enormous asset for presidential administrations regardless of party, and undermining it belies a misunderstanding of what public servants actually do. These good folks, the vast majority of whom do not live in Washington, get up in the morning to cut social security checks, maintain aircraft carriers, treat veterans, guard the border, find Osama bin Laden, and yes, work hard to protect the president and make his policies look good. Many of them earn less than they would in the private sector and are deeply committed to serving the American people. Any effort to undercut them is irrational on its face. . .

“Pulling qualified people from important civil service postings or otherwise preventing them from doing their jobs will undermine the government’s ability to perform basic functions in support of the American people and their interests . . . In reality, most the individuals serving the U.S. government (including those in more arcane and cobwebbed corners) exist to keep the trains, roads, planes, and hospitals running (somewhat) on time, or even running at all.”

Some of the area’s Indivisible groups, including Takoma Park Mobilization and Indivisible MoCo, have organized “know-your-rights” workshops for federal employees.  For those who want more information, we are distributing this list of key resources.

Given the particular attention to climate research and other scientific data, we’re also sharing the following resources from the Union of Concerned Scientists that are especially for researchers and scientists in government.

Finally, we recommend the Project on Government Oversight as a resource for those who are concerned about behavior that seems to go beyond what’s legal and ethical.  POGO is going to be hosting a series of webinars for those who want more information about whistleblower protections. 

Being a public servant and upholding our laws shouldn’t be an act of resistance!  Donald Trump is calling us the swamp- he’s even threatening us in his latest fundraising video, claiming “there are people in our unelected bureaucracy trying to sabotage us.”  Help keep us beat back swamp-politicians who would abuse their positions to undermine our integrity, independence, and ultimately our responsibility to all our taxpayers must be held to account.

(The author is a federal employee).