Drain the swamp? Not so much.

1 December 2016   
Drain the swamp? Not so much.

There were several defining slogans used by the Trump campaign to thrust their candidate into the Oval Office. “Lock her up” chants conveyed immense distaste for the Democratic candidate and her operations within the State Department. FBI investigations into Clinton’s private email server surely fueled the fire, allowing Trump to label his opponent as a criminal more worthy of a prison sentence than a presidential election victory. The promise to “build a wall” was also significant, as Trump’s harsh stance against illegal immigration was a major focal point of his campaign from the very moment he announced that he would be running. This slogan allowed him to convey an attitude of putting America first and rejecting the values and the people of foreign countries. While certainly bigoted, this message garnered traction with a broad swath of the American people. Perhaps the most important message peddled throughout the Trump campaign, however, was his promise to “drain the swamp” that is Washington’s elite political circles.

Trump told the American electorate that, as an outsider, he would rid Washington of the excessive bureaucratic inefficiencies caused by career politicians. This resonated well with millions of voters who felt as though “insiders” had been wronging them for years. Now, more than three weeks since Trump was elected president, it appears that his calls for draining the swamp were but mere rhetoric.

An article in Politico notes that the terms “drain the swamp” have been used for decades to describe a multitude of different policies. In fact, both Ronald Reagan and Nancy Pelosi both used the term, despite the apparent division in their preferences and political leanings. With its broad scope, some have tried to narrow it down. The Left has argued that Trump meant that he would rid Washington of the financial interests to which many bureaucrats and politicians are beholden. Trump’s campaign was largely premised upon his ability to fund most of his own operations, and he made it a point to boast about his lack of financial obligations to outside interests. If this is the definition we use, however, it is clear that Trump is most certainly not draining the swamp. “So the nominations of Steven Mnuchin as treasury secretary, Wilbur Ross as commerce secretary, and Betsy DeVos as education secretary are criticized as proof Trump never meant it about draining the swamp.”

If we use a different understanding of what Trump might have meant, we might consider that the President-elect has plans to restrict the influence peddling that is inevitable with the system of revolving doors between lobbying firms and political positions. Trump has made claims that he will ban White House and congressional officials from moving into lobbying work within five years of leaving the government, so this appears to be somewhat in line with a draining of the swamp. On the other hand, however, there will inevitably be substantial loopholes in these provisions, and lobbyists will surely find ways around them, rendering them fairly ineffective.

It remains to be seen whether Trump will make some of the major government cuts that he promised in his campaign. These reductions in the size and scope of the federal government might contribute to a swamp draining, but as of now, it does not appear that Trump is moving in that direction.

As such, it looks as though Trump’s major promise will be unmet.

What do you think?