Who We Are Part I: Radical Bureaucrats on Advocacy

As we prepare for the formal launch of the Radical Bureaucrats website and podcast, we thought it would be a good idea to use the first few Rad Rants to explain who we are in more detail than what is offered in our About section. These posts will help explain our core tenets, broken down by our three core activities: advocacy, education and mobilization.

Advocacy is a great place to start this conversation because it helps us frame our overall ideology as a group. Let's address the elephant in the room: we're sure a lot of people are puzzled by our intentional decision to associate with the term "bureaucrat." And it's easy to understand why: bureaucrats conjure images of pencil-pushing workers at the DMV who treat everyone with cold, robotic indifference.

However, it's important to recognize that those government employees are the people responsible for your driver's license. Similarly, through the public affairs masters program that we all took part in, we have come to realize that bureaucrats across a variety of public institutions do the crucial work of ensuring that those very institutions operate as effectively as they can to fulfill their mandate.

We understand that governments and public institutions are large, complex and cumbersome apparatuses, nonetheless, they ensure our safety and seek to promote our prosperity in a number of ways, from guarding our national security, to putting people to work during economic downturns. Thus, those of us that are committed to public service seek to reclaim the term and absolve it of its pejorative shroud.

Working backwards, why do we choose to identify as "radical?" Traditionally, it was viewed that bureaucrats and public sector workers ought to act as neutral implementers of government policy. However, we argue that there is no inherent objectivity or neutrality to how bureaucrats utilize their discretion to implement the nuts-and-bolts of policy. These decisions are instead informed by the personal experiences, perspectives and biases of the bureaucrats in question. This is a pretty wide departure of the standard definition of what a bureaucrat should be, and thus we would argue, radical.

With that in mind, our intention is to be explicit and transparent with regards to the perspectives that we believe should inform the creation and implementation of public policies. We sincerely believe that the policies we seek to enact embody the values of progressivism, and are designed to serve the interests of the many, and not the few. However, we realize that not everyone may agree with our values, interests or strategies. Nonetheless, our transparency allows disagreement to be open, honest and perhaps even constructive as we engage in continued dialogue with alternative perspectives, while being clear on where we draw the line on the issues that matter to us.