For policy experts, like Dan Drezner, the next four years will be a waking nightmare:
For technocrats, this is the darkest timeline. They are meritocrats to the core, and the emergent Trump administration is a meritocratic apocalypse. They have been trained to believe that things like expertise and experience matter in conducting the nation’s affairs. Trump hasn’t hired talentless hacks, but his hires possess little direct relevant experience or training to run the departments they’ve been hired to run. The conclusion to draw from this is that the country will be very badly run for the next four years.
This leads to an existential problem for experts. Wonks love their country and they love policy minutiae. They believe that experience and expertise are pretty important when it comes to governing. They are now trying to process an incoming administration that believes there are no such things as objective facts or words that matter.
This puts the technocrat in a very awkward situation. If their premise is that being wonkish is necessary for government to function, then they will predict awful governance for the next four years. That’s bad for intrinsic reasons.
But what if their premise is wrong? What if the Trump administration turns out to be pretty good at governing? Well, that’s worse.
All three loyal readers of Spoiler Alerts will scoff at the possibility of a competent Trump administration, but it’s worth mulling over. Trump has spent the past year and a half defying most political experts and winning the greatest natural experiment in American political history. What if he and his team prove to be better at governing than wonks expect him to be? What if it turns out that the country is already trending in a very positive direction and even the federal government can’t screw that up? Or what if disruption by inexperienced policy principals is just what the bureaucracy needs?
It would mean an Orwellian nightmare for wonks. Education is ignorance. Reading is harmful. Experience is fatally flawed. Debate is debilitating.