Americans have always had a love affair with the underdog.  We love movies about rag tag groups of hard workers banding together to face down the powerful and unjust – so much so, that sometimes we try to inject that narrative into situations that simply don’t call for it.  The Democratic Party has long used that understanding to paint themselves as the supporters of the “every man,” hoisting up unions, fighting for raises in minimum wage and rolling their eyes at the (admittedly flawed) concept of Republican favorite, trickle-down economics.

It’s the marketing tactic Hillary Clinton’s campaign used to present an absurdly rich white woman as the “right” choice for America’s poor and downtrodden, despite growing up the daughter of a successful businessman, participating in a number of (sometimes scandalous) investments with her husband, earning a reported $9 million for writing just one of her books and claiming that her net worth of $100 million didn’t make her “truly well off.”

Well it’s no wonder she earned the endorsement of the American Federation of Government Employees – a union that uses the same “underdog” tactics to retain the immense amount of power they’ve garnered on behalf of federal employees.

Donald Trump made it clear throughout his campaign that he intends to make it easier to terminate federal employees who aren’t living up to their side of the employment bargain, particularly in the VA – a process that can currently be quite the ordeal.  The main stream media has published a number of columns vilifying the man for taking such an un-American stance.  After all… firing employees for failing to do their jobs isn’t the kind of fascism America should stand for, right?

I have a bit of experience with the process required to terminate a federal employee.  While stationed in Twentynine Palms, we had a GS employee assigned to my team to handle paperwork and logistics.  In the interest of protecting his identity (as I have no doubt he is still employed by the Federal Government) I’ll call him Mr. Stevens.  Mr. Stevens often came into work late, and left hours before any of the enlisted Marines in the shop were secured at the end of the day.  His authority was far from recognized among my Marines, and I’ll admit, he was so bad at his job that I didn’t work very hard to encourage my guys to treat him with anything more than the respect required to keep them from getting torn apart by our Master Sergeant.

It was no secret that this man and I didn’t get along.  He’d often remind us that his civilian position outranked any of ours, and as the platoon sergeant, I’d often remind him that we didn’t need a paperweight in our shop, so he should either start producing or resign his position.  Eventually, his inability to do the work he’d been hired to do came to the attention of our senior leadership, who called a series of meetings wherein the three of us would discuss our options, first to try to get Mr. Stevens to do his job, and eventually, to discuss how on Earth we could get rid of the guy.

After twelve months of trying, we finally found the only feasible way we could be rid of him: we got him promoted.

In many federal positions, your rank and pay-grade (with the exception of levels within that grade) are tied to your position.  In other words, the only way to get promoted is to take a new job.  Because our hands were utterly tied in terms of firing the man for doing nothing, our only remaining option was to get him pushed to a higher paying gig someplace else, where a new team of Marines would have to put up with him and we could begin the hiring process once again.