The degrading history of Pres. Bush in which vital political appointments might be compared to tossing bloody fish bits while looking to reel in a big great white shark-chumming-has brought to the surface the ugly truth about bureaucracy at ever level in a democratic political structure. To exactly what extent are the decision-making processes at every level of government from the municipal to the federal executive branch dependent on rewarding some big fat buddy with a political appointment instead of the addressing the public’s right to a fully qualified agent?
Can there be any question in light of such unimaginably misguided examples of political chumming that the politicization of the civil service bureaucracy at all levels is facing increased pressures on the ability of these systems to administrate properly? Anyone who thinks the shutdown of the effectiveness of the Attorney General’s office as a result of the paralysis it experienced once the utter lack of Alberto Gonzales’ qualifications for the job became public knowledge is relegated only to the federal level under Bush is a Pollyanna. While Bush serves as the standard-bearer for what not to do when it comes to having the power to essentially appoint anyone you desire to a position of power for which they are distinctly unprepared, this is a problem that has been experienced by every state and municipality in the country at one point or another. The primary problem being faced is the placement of undo pressure on civil servants to conform to political expectations in order to sustain their placement within the employment hierarchy.
Of course, this is not a problem that is experienced only in the U.S. Several studies reveal that it is an international phenomenon; that politics has become increasingly interwoven within the civil service bureaucracy of such countries as the U.K., the U.S. and France. The evidence especially points to a shifting tone of politicization, to the extent that it has become increasingly more insidious an ingredient in the administration of bureaucratic reforms and business. The ultimate point of the predicament serves to illuminate the problems inherent in a system in which all laws and institutions serve a political agenda to one degree or another. The only difference between the bureaucratic difficulties in one country or another, or even one political system or another, is that that not all bureaucracies are the same, and that the definition of a civil servant can vary considerably.
The most enlightening aspect of this issue is that it causes one to undergo a re-evaluation of the shifting values of political import to be found in a country’s social and cultural aspects. The hope, of course, is that there might exist a Wilsonian separation of politics from administration while also adhering to Weber’s theories on hierarchical assumptions. The problem that must be faced is that while Weber is correct in advocating the theoretical ideals of impersonal organization, ultimately the Marxian truth must be faced that everything carries a political component. While it may naturally be assumed that bureaucracy on account of its hierarchical structure with a definite chain of command allows for little in the way of political flexibility, in truth the very nature of a system designed for the purpose of inculcating a broad political ideology is predisposed to the corrupting influences of political appointments. Separating political appointments from the expectations of political administering of policy seems highly dubious. When one takes into account that the education of this country is dependent on civil servants and, in many cases, appointed regulators of the curricula, the idea that educators are subject to political pressure in following their career path is especially nauseating.