WASHINGTON: The signs of popular dissent from President Trump’s opening volley of actions have been plain to see on the nation’s streets, at airports in the aftermath of his refugee and visa ban, and in the blizzard of outrage on social media. But there’s another level of resistance to the new president that is less visible and potentially more troublesome to the administration: a growing wave of opposition from the federal workers charged with implementing any new president’s agenda, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.
Less than two weeks into Trump’s administration, federal workers are in regular consultation with recently departed Obama-era political appointees about what they can do to push back against the new president’s initiatives. Some federal employees have set up social media accounts to anonymously leak word of changes that Trump appointees are trying to make.
And a few government workers are pushing back more openly, incurring the wrath of a White House that, as press secretary Sean Spicer said this week about dissenters at the State Department, sends a clear message that they “should either get with the program, or they can go.”
At a church in Columbia Heights last weekend, dozens of federal workers attended a support group for civil servants seeking a forum to discuss their opposition to the Trump administration. And 180 federal employees have signed up for a workshop next weekend, where experts will offer advice on workers’ rights and how they can express civil disobedience.
The White House on Tuesday began firing dissenters in government and asked career administration officials to quit if they disagreed with the president’s policies, amid a widening cleave in US between mostly-coastal liberals and moderates and Trump constituency of protectionists.
“These career bureaucrats have a problem with it? They should get with the programme or they can go,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said after reports emerged that scores of state department officials backed a dissent cable to register their concern over Trump’s refugee ban, saying it “runs counter to American values” and could be “counter productive”. “If somebody has a problem with President’s agenda, then that does call into question whether or not they should continue in that post or not,” Spicer said.