Over the last couple of weeks, parts of our internal security apparatus (that’s what it would be called in many foreign countries), especially the Border Patrol, have been acting illegally by ignoring court orders and the like. In addition, they have been showing far less deference towards, well, people in general, as the recent detention and questioning of a former Norwegian prime minister and diplomat shows. Though the recent adornment of a military convoy with a Trump flag is also troubling.
While we should be shocked and angry about the lawlessness, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Consider the Republican Party’s de facto Muslim immigrant ban: if polls are to be believed around half of Americans support it. Where do you think they work? The National Endowment for the Arts? People who oppose immigrants will gravitate towards CBP and ICE. People who are authoritarian will wind up, if they can, in institutions that reward those tendencies. This will also have geographic influences: liberal areas will have relative more liberal institutions on average (though there are exceptions cutting both ways in a country of 320 million people).
This is not to say that all or most members of those institutions are horrible people. Anecdotally, I don’t think the D.C. cops are very fond of Donald Trump. But there will be concentrations within these organizations that are, erm, deplorable.
While these attitudes are lock, stock, and barrel the provenance of conservatives, Democrats didn’t do anyone any favors by strengthening the security state. If public universities are the province of liberals (a debatable point once something like graduate student unionization, which directly affects the faculty and administration, rears its head), then parts of our security forces are the province of conservatives, especially those with a strong authoritarian bent.
This will be a problem, but we can’t begin to solve it until we recognize it.