Draining The Swamp

Donald Trump’s campaign promise to “Drain the swamp” has successfully placed him in the Oval Office.  But what exactly is the swamp, and how does one go about draining it?

The commonly accepted definition of the “swamp”, and the one Trump alludes to, is the career, political elite of Washington, D.C., who are in essence tenured legislators.  This career, political class is seen as an entrenched, corrupt, blackguard of the status quo, a semi-permanent legislative body that stands between the people, their rights, and a just government.  I contend that these entrenched politicians are not in fact, THE swamp”; rather they merely reflect the dominant ideas of our culture.  I would argue that these career politicians are merely a surface layer, and the real depth of the swamp lies somewhere else.

The Democrats and Republicans are virtually united in their moral base, that is, the pinnacle of virtue for both parties is altruism, the morality which preaches the sacrifice of the individual self for “others”.  They sometimes differ on which individuals should be sacrificed, and quibble over the level of sacrifice, but they both fundamentally believe in the moral duty of being “thy brother’s keeper”.

The recent example of Trump and the Republican’s failure to repeal Obamacare was a prime example of the shared moral views of both parties.  Rather than merely repeal the ACA, leaving individuals, doctors, and insurance companies far more free, the Republicans, terrified of being labeled as “cold hearted monsters” and believing along with the Democrats, that it is proper and legitimate for the government to regulate and provide subsidized health insurance to some degree to some persons at least, tried to substitute a slightly decaffeinated, but similarly odorous version of the ACA, to have it (luckily) shot down by a few principled legislators on the right.  Trump and the majority of Republicans created and endorsed “Ryancare” rather than an outright repeal of the ACA because they feared the backlash from the public and their own constituents for “taking away” insurance from some, and also because they too firmly believe that government does have a role to play in providing health insurance.

But can the general public honestly criticize Trump and his associates for not repealing it?  Is the general public opposed to government involvement in health care overall?  Or education?  Or Housing?  Or Energy?  Or farming?  Or food and drug regulation?  Or radio,TV, and the internet?  Or setting interest rates?  Or policing the “environment”?  Or delivering letters?

Most Americans agree with many, if not all of these areas, as legitimate for the government to regulate, finance, and control.  Since we have devolved away from a republic centered around a limited Constitutional government and into a more fundamentally democratic nation where the majority is the source of, and enforcer of rights, the government, and it’s politicians, have merely kept in step with the current beliefs of the majority.  Until Americans completely reject the government involvement in ALL these areas, and support a principled separation of economics and state, “the swamp”, along with cronyism, corruption, manipulation, and a never ending war of pressure groups are here to stay.

The immoral, anti-American idea that one individual’s needs or wants are a claim on the rights of another is regressive and unarguably destructive of the individual’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and this notion, is the root of the swamp.  We can sweep every single politician out of Washington D.C tomorrow, and replace them with fresh suits, but if the new faces believe in the same ideas, and even serve only single terms, will it matter?  If the public believes Americans have a “right” to be provided with something, and elects politicians who share that belief, how will term limits make any difference?

What is needed to drain “the swamp” is a Re-revolution a resurgence of the spirit of the founding fathers but far more clearly defined and articulated.  We as a people need to comprehensively rediscover the unique American notion that the individual is sovereign and the source of rights, not the fodder for any other individual or group or bureaucrat, and that to make even one exception in any area is to undermine the principle of individual rights and inherently un-American.

A change of D.C. suits with term limits won’t drain “the swamp”, only a fundamental change of ideas will.

Gary Menard
Distinguished Fellow
Worcester Tea Party