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Biden set to shut door on conservatives in federal jobs

By Michael Austin
web posted April 3, 2023

When working for the government, Joe Biden is no longer content with the tried-and-true question of patriotism: “Are you with or against us?” In a shocking effort to overhaul federal hiring guidelines, the president wants to ask: “Are you with or against me?”

A proposed rule governing federal hiring is, at best, a bad policy promoting left-wing loyalty over competence. At worst, it’s a stepping stone to undermining fair hiring practices and freedom of speech.

In January, the Office of Personnel Management proposed changes to the federal government’s “personnel vetting investigative and adjudicative processes for determining suitability and fitness.” It explains that this refers to “a decision by an agency that an individual does or does not have the required level of character and conduct necessary” for federal employment. The public has until April 3 to file comments on these amendments before the rule is finalized.

Current policy prohibits hiring applicants found to be involved in “knowing and willful engagement” in trying to overthrow the government. The new policy adds interpretive words like “coercion,” “intimidation” and “indoctrination” of others for “unlawful aims.” It would also exclude people with membership in groups with “unlawful aims.”

If this is clear as mud, it’s obviously on purpose. It can mean “toe the party line, or you won’t have a paycheck to sign.”

It’s a leftist trope that words are violence. So, it’s only a matter of time before bureaucrats use the rule to deny employment, justify firing and generally allow the harassment of conservatives in federal jobs.

This harassment isn’t a conspiracy theory. It is knocking at the door. Let’s count how conservatives are canceled today based merely on what they say.

If you say marriage should be between a man and a woman, you can be canceled. If you say schools and libraries shouldn’t host drag shows? Canceled. If you say we shouldn’t lower standards on people based on their race or gender? Canceled. If you say you support the Second Amendment? Canceled. If you say we shouldn’t have pornography in elementary schools? Canceled.

In January, a restaurant owner stopped Project 21 member Gianno Caldwell — a black conservative — from eating his breakfast. Gianno was publicly shunned and kicked out of the restaurant because he dared to openly discuss his political beliefs. In December, a Virginia-based conservative Christian advocacy group was denied service at a restaurant just an hour before their reservation. Why? The restaurant’s employees felt threatened by their pro-life advocacy.

In countless other examples nationwide, leftists are growing bolder in their intolerance. Remember when Rep. Maxine Waters said “they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere” about Trump administration officials? The federal government could end up sanctioning such behavior — throwing water on a grease fire.

With this rule, President Biden would send a chilling effect on political participation. He apparently wants conservatives to be afraid of expressing their political views by harming their employment prospects. He wants conservatives to be afraid to dissent against his policies. He wants conservatives to fear engaging in peaceful political activities or speaking on issues.

Biden wants more power, more control and more dominance.

It is no longer about the diversity of ideas or a healthy democracy. Can you imagine what will happen if federal agencies are staffed primarily by a political echo chamber? It would erode trust in government and the legitimacy of our constitutional republic.

Such an exertion of control may violate federal law and constitutional principles. The Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 prohibits discrimination against federal employees based on political affiliation. Additionally, the First Amendment protects the rights of individuals to express their political views without fear of government retribution. If this rule is approved, it must be challenged in the courts.

Biden’s federal hiring proposal is a direct assault on democracy. Leftists seem determined to stifle free speech, quash ideas and sow a culture of fear and mistrust. If adopted, these vague hiring rules will give leftists the green light to use your taxpayer dollars to discriminate against your interests.

There is still time for the government to reject this dangerous plan. People need to speak up for fair federal employment practices. Societies excel when we promote qualified individuals to roles based on their skills, knowledge and experience — not politics.

Let’s do our best to keep merit-based principles in federal agencies and tell Biden to protect our Constitution and freedom of speech — not his cronies. ESR

Project 21’s Michael Austin is president of Knowledge & Decisions Economic Consulting. He wrote this for Reprinted with kind permission from the National Center for Public Policy Research.


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