Deep State? What in the world is it?

I want to tell you about an encounter I had this morning with a stranger. He lives near my wife and me in North Texas.

He is a nice enough fellow. I didn’t get his name. I suspect I’ll see him again. We chatted this morning for a few minutes. He is politically astute and apparently is concerned about the deep divisions that exist in our great country.

Then he tossed out the term du jour, the current bogeyman of the right and far right: Yep, I’m talking about the Deep State.

I recently looked it up. It is meant to define institutions and people immune from voters’ wishes and whims. The fellow I met this morning says the Deep State exists. It’s real and its a profound threat … he said.

The Deep State — whatever it is — has taken form in the eyes of many Americans. I cannot confirm this, but it seems that those who believe in the Deep State threat appear to entertain a lot of conspiracy theories.

They find conspiracies at every turn. They don’t believe historians’ accounts of certain monumental events: political assassinations, huge terror attacks, mind-blowing technological and scientific achievements.

My neighbor didn’t get into too much detail about the Deep State or how he believes it is manipulating current events. He said the Deep State “has always existed.” He referred to big-money movers and shakers, huge financial institutions. Those are historical Deep State activists who have pulled the strings that dictate how our elected leaders should act.

A member of Congress is under investigation for allegedly looking the other way while a college sports doctor sexually abused athletes; he blames the Deep State for concocting this controversy. Donald Trump’s allies say all the attention being paid to allegations that his presidential campaign “colluded” with Russians spooks are part of the Deep State conspiracy.

The Deep State, whatever the hell it is, has become a throwaway term. It has become the term of art that some Americans want to blame for everything that is going wrong these days.

I am not wired that way. I don’t consider myself to be naive. I’m closing in on 70 years of life on this good Earth. I’ve been able to travel around the world. I had a modestly successful career in journalism. I managed to keep my eyes and ears wide open as I pursued by craft.

The Deep State is not entirely a figment of right-wing conspiracy goofballs’ imagination. Nor is it, in my view, a mysterious monster lurking in the shadows.

The Deep State is getting far too much “credit” than it deserves.