The Deep State: Just What is it, Exactly?

The Deep State: Just What is it, Exactly?

The so-called “Deep State” is one of many extremist sociopolitical phenomena that have recently risen in popularity so significantly that now even moderates and liberals must take notice.

If your views are center, or left of it, you probably weren’t even aware that things like Tomi Lahren, TheBlaze (it’s one word for some reason), Daily Stormer, Richard Spencer, Milo Yiannopoulos, Clay Travis etc. even existed until mid 2016.

The fact that substantially more of us non-wing nuts are aware of who they are is obviously not necessarily a good thing, but at the same time we all must consistently exit our ideological silos.

Getting outside our own echo chambers, where we all retweet, Facebook share and forward the same links over and over is healthy and productive. Yes, even in spite of the deplorable dreck we sometimes encounter on such journeys.


Newt Gingrich is an individual who holds a worldview I strongly disagree with on almost every front. He’s not somebody I can speak very highly of, in any regard, but when the chance came to see him speak on the important economic issues of the day, I got up nice and early to make sure I was front row center.

To be certain of your own ideologies, hear out the polar opposite. If you’re a capitalist, read Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto. If you’re a Jedi knight, clash with a Sith Lord.

After all, how do we know our own ideas and viewpoints have any strength unless we consistently stress test them?

This specific Gingrich observation jumped out at me from that session:

newt gingrich

“On our side of the American system you have people who are very angry at Washington and routinely talk of the swamp, who really believe there is a deep state, and are willing to give Trump a fair amount of rope because they think that he’s at least trying.”

“I think it’s very telling that the person who won in Alabama, one could argue, is more to the disruptive side of Trump.”

“It’s not like the system is going back to the norm, the system in fact, doubled down.”

(note: this was after Roy Moore beat Luther Strange in the Alabama Republican primary for U.S. Senate, but before his general election loss to Doug Jones)

At that time, I thought believers in the deep state were pretty close to real life versions of the Weird Al Yankovic song “Foil,” a parody of Lorde’s “Royal.” (video below)

Yankovic sings:

“I’ve figured out these shadow organizations
And the Illuminati know
That they’re finally primed for world domination

And soon you’ve got black helicopters coming ‘cross the border
Puppet masters for the New World Order
Be aware: there’s always someone that’s watching you”

He’s exaggerating for comedic effect of course, but when you look up the deep state, you find that it’s popular enough to even have its own Wikipedia entry, which attributes the source to  Mike Lofgren, a former Republican U.S. congressional aide, who defined the term, back in 2014 as:

“a hybrid association of elements of government and parts of top-level finance and industry that is effectively able to govern the United States without reference to the consent of the governed as expressed through the formal political process.”

sean hannity

The entry goes on to mention how the deep state has become a bedrock of the alt right movement, an ideology that is consistently championed by Steve Bannon and Sean Hannity.

Any time you watch Hannity, or anyone else on FOX News Channel, have a discussion that makes it sound like Hillary Clinton is actually President right now- that’s the deep state paranoia being summoned. 

Think of the all the times Hannity has presented his flow charts (hilariously and accurately described by comedian Hasan Minhaj as “resembling an ex-football player trying to sell you time shares”)- that’s the deep state theory.

It’s Bannonsim, and it’s not going away any time soon, as Bannon was the lead actor in this week’s biggest news events.

The deep state is an alleged entity that claims coordinated efforts by governmental employees and others influence policy without regard for democratically elected officials. To the Bannonites, Trumpsters, MAGA and America First crowds, the deep state seeks to delegitimize and undermine the Trump presidency at every turn. 

steve bannon

Yes, I went down the rabbit holes where the Breitbart people dwell, so you don’t have to.

The idea of the deep state is rooted in the rise of the military-industrial complex, and the expansion of federal agencies dedicated to national security. The deep state conspiracy theories have gained a lot of traction due to the fact that intelligence agencies must work in the shadows, a prerequisite given their covert nature.

Many of the deals between the government and defense contractors are notoriously corrupt, hence the very real malfeasance only fuels the imagination of perceived marionette strings being pulled on us.

Given widespread cynicism for government, it’s not hard to convert true believers to the church of the deep state.

This isn’t anything really new, “the shadow wars” Mr. Yankovic was singing about are ideas that have been around for a very long time, it’s just they have a new moniker now.


This week saw the Trump family further mainstreaming these ideas.

On Tuesday, Donald Trump went on a Twitter barrage, trying to tweet out as many outrageous ideas as possible, hoping that at least one narrative would stick, and then we’d all be fixated on that story instead of revelations in the book “Fire and Fury” by Michael Wolff.

Here’s a link to more on that tweet, via “FAKE NEWS” CNN.

That was Tuesday morning, but long after the sun had set, one of the sons also rose to the deep state occasion, tweeting this:

Credit talk show host Ellen DeGeneres for making the perfect response.

“I’m sorry to disappoint you. I am not part of the deep state. I’m honored that you think I’m powerful enough to be part of a government conspiracy,” she said on her show.

 “I’ve got my gay agenda meetings on Monday, and on Wednesday, Beyoncé and I host an illuminati brunch.”

Upon closer inspection of the deep state hypothesis, I’m still with Weird Al on this.

Eric Trump

If you honestly believe, with your fullest heart and soundest mind, in the existence of the deep state, then by all means wear your tin foil hat.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC and Chicago, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and the Tribune corporation blogging community Chicago Now.

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