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If democracy survives, thank a federal employee

May 4, 2022 | Updated on April 25, 2023

WASHINGTON POST — Republicans since the Reagan era have made an art of disparaging the federal government and its workforce. “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help,’ ” President Ronald Reagan wisecracked at a news conference in August 1986. What began as a mission to limit the reach of the federal government and promote federalism soon morphed into an effort to starve government of resources and then, in the MAGA era, to essentially disable it, filling the ranks with cronies and relatives, chasing experienced hands out of government, turning the mission of public service into one of private gain, while removing a professional civil service as a check against an authoritarian-minded president.