Quick… What’s the “swampiest” political move you can think of?
If you answered, “Making sure your cronies don’t pay for their crimes,” you’re right.
Using your elective office for personal gain is pretty swampy. So is appointing your unqualified buddies to high office. But getting your cronies off scot-free after they’ve committed crimes? That takes swampy balls the size of watermelons.
Which has got to make Donald Trump the King of Swamp Monsters.
He Came to Drain the Swamp
In December 2016, Trump tweeted, “Someone incorrectly stated that the phrase ‘DRAIN THE SWAMP’ was no longer being used by me. Actually, we will always be trying to DTS.”
And that’s one of the few truths I can find among Trumps many tweets and quotes. He used the phrase in June 2020 to push for Sen. David Purdue’s reelection. Trump needs Purdue, he said, to help Drain the Swamp and Make America Great Again.
Side note: Well over than three years after becoming president, Trump admits he has neither drained the swamp nor made America great again. Sounds to me he’s admitting he’s failed. But, moving on…
In February 2020, Trump tweeted, “DRAIN THE SWAMP! We want bad people out of our government!”
Wait a minute. This guy took office in January 2017. Three years after taking the reins – and installing his hand-picked team at the head of every executive branch… Three years after taking office with a Republican majority in both houses of Congress… Three years after launching an unprecedented campaign to install friendly judges…
He’s still whining about draining the swamp?
Again, that sounds like failure to me. But here’s why he’s had such a hard time…
Bad Actors Don’t Make for Good Government
Back in February 2018 – barely a year after Trump took office – CNBC reported on his scandal-plagued administration. At that point, eight of Trump’s cabinet-level officials were already implicated in scandals.
- Health and Human Services head Tom Price spent $900,000 of taxpayers’ money for trips on private or military jets… when commercial aircraft could have served the purpose.
- David Shulkin, the Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs, made a rather shady trip to Europe. To begin with, Shulkin improperly charged his wife’s travel expenses to taxpayers. He also allowed staff to handle disallowed personal travel details. And wrongly accepted tickets to a sporting event
- Environmental Protection Agency secretary Scott Pruitt also came under fire for travel. CNBC points out Pruitt improperly flew first class – at a substantial cost to taxpayers. Over a 3-month period, Pruitt was absent from his office 46% of the time.
- Ben Carson? Trump’s head of Housing and Urban Development was accused of nepotism. His wife’s firm even “won” a $485,000 government contract in an unusual no-bid situation.
- Ryan Zinke? The former Interior Department secretary had a little travel problem. He charge the government $12,735 for one trip from Las Vegas to Montana. The department inspector general (IG) complained that Zinke failed to keep complete records of his travel.
- Steve Mnuchin? His use of military jets instead of commercial flights was questioned by Treasury’s IG. Not the least of his offenses: Charging taxpayers for his wife’s travel to Fort Knox.
I could go on… but what’s the point?
Wilbur Ross sleeps through meetings. Rick Perry didn’t know the Department of Energy was responsible for the nation’s nuclear weapons. Betsy DeVos knows almost nothing about education. Ad infinitum.
The point is, you can’t “drain the swamp” by putting crooked, greedy, or ignorant people in positions of power.
Which is exactly what Trump has done. To your detriment.
So how do you fight back?
Should We Really Drain the Swamp?
First, let’s think about swamps. They’re not bad places at all. In fact, swamps support healthy ecosystems around the Earth. The problem with swamps is when someone introduces toxins… which then leak out into other ecosystems.
The key isn’t to drain swamps – which destroys ecosystems. It’s to keep out the toxins.
Swamps are healthy ecosystems. Ecosystems that promote a healthy environment. Draining swamps leads to the death of healthy ecosystems.
Only short-sighted, destructive people say, “Drain the swamp,” without considering the consequences.
But that’s the point of the Trump administration. They want to drain the swamp… regardless of the consequences. Because they see short-term gain.
But the swamp is where countless creatures start their lives. The “swamp” is the primordial ooze of Democracy. And the antithesis of Trump’s fascist goals.
Should we drain the swamp? Or should we rid it of the toxic ooze that threatens its very existence? Maybe we should go with Mother Nature.
“Drain the Swamp,” Trump Twitter Archive. Jul 11, 2020.
Mangan, D., “Trump’s Cabinet has been rocked by a number of ethics scandals — here’s a complete guide,” CNBC. Feb 16, 2018.