You elect someone to office, and they come with staff. In the past, the staff understood their job to be to serve the person elected. After all, nobody voted for them to be anything. More recently, staff presumed their views to be sufficiently important that they were compelled to express them. Aren’t their opinions worthy of respect, as they were told? But when the elected person, candidate for office or both, decided that he’s going with his views instead of theirs, what is staff to do?
In a letter first shared with West Wing Playbook, 17 current Biden campaign staffers called directly on the president to push for a permanent ceasefire in the monthslong conflict.
“As your staff, we believe it is both a moral and electoral imperative for you to publicly call for a cessation of violence,” the staffers wrote in the letter, which was anonymously signed and posted on Medium. “Complicity in the death of over 20,000 Palestinians, 8,200 of whom are children, simply cannot be justified.”
Notably, this wasn’t the first time staffers felt morally compelled to go publish with their disagreement with the position of their patron. who happens in this instance to be the president of the United States.
Since the fall, a flurry of protest letters — often written without names attached — have urged the president to support a ceasefire. In November, 500 political appointees and staff members from 40 government agencies anonymously signed one letter, while another letter included the names of over 500 alumni of Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign. White House interns also sent a letter to the president and staffers on Capitol Hill have also sent similar letters to their bosses.
President Biden, no doubt, would prefer to be in a position where he could both support Israel and avoid being called “Genocide Joe” for the collateral damage to Gazans, and he’s tried to thread the needle by amorphous calls for Israel to be more “mindful of humanitarian concerns and more surgical in its military campaign,” easier said than done. But his primary position remains, that Israel has a right and duty to protect its citizens from terrorism.
As Biden understands, only children and the terminally passionate indulge in ceasefire fantasies. Nations have citizens to protect from terrorists, and that includes the United States. This was pretty much universally understood, until the nation at issue was Israel, whereupon the rules reversed.
…They stressed that although they disagree with the president’s approach, their pushback comes from a place of “tough love,” as one staffer put it.
“That’s what motivated us to do this,” a second staffer said. “There’s this disconnect in the type of man that he is, and we think him calling for a ceasefire will set things straight and show the world what kind of man he is.”
Loosely translated, not only do they believe that they are morally righteous, but that Biden will lose their morally righteous cohort on election day unless he flips on Israel and backs the terrorists to avoid further death in Gaza because that’s how Hamas and, sadly, Gazans set the stage.
Staffers, of course, are fully entitled to their views, right or wrong, mature or infantile. What they are not entitled to is to bite the hand that feeds them. Had they not been hired as staffers, they would be utterly irrelevant, no more worthy of concern than randos on the twitters. But here they are, staffers to the president, to the candidate for president, and by virtue of their ascribed credibility as staffers, handed to them at the largesse of their elected patron, their opinion has taken on a weight that would otherwise be undeserved.
If they cannot support their patron or his position, they are fully entitled to resign their staff posts and walk away. They aren’t slaves to Biden or his policies. But what they are not entitled to do is use the credibility they gain from being Biden’s staff to attack him, to undermine him.
And for all their moral righteousness, they don’t even have the guts to put their names to it.
The letter was organized by campaign staffers. Five of them confirmed the authenticity of the letter to West Wing Playbook. Those staffers, who were granted anonymity because of their concern of backlash, said they were motivated to organize their letter out of a sense of moral responsibility.
Indeed, when congressional staffers took to the steps, they wore masks.
Bold move, kids.
No one is arguing that they can’t have an opinion or express it to their superior, even if their opinion is dumb and childish, and they don’t want their patron to fire them for aspiring to be future DEI bureaucrats. No one is arguing that they must remain on staff when their job duty is to serve a patron whose positions they find morally abhorrent. They can walk out the door any damn time they please.
But what is wrong is to try to embarrass, undermine and, yes, extort the very people who make their opinion matter slightly more than that of the sophomore critical theory major at Harvard. When they get elected to office, they get to make the call. Until then, they can support their boss or walk away. Those are the only options available, even to the morally righteous.