GUEST OPINION: While You Were Tweeting…

By on January 10, 2017

We discovered who is actually responsible for draining the swamp.

Meet the newest Garbage Pail Kid on the block, ‘Drain The Swamp ‘ Donald. Sorry, the card is already sold-out.  (Photo: The Topps Company)

Meet the newest Garbage Pail Kid on the block, ‘Drain The Swamp’ Donald. Sorry, the card is already sold-out. (Image: The Topps Company)

JACKSON HOLE, WY – This week we go exploring. So grab some waders, rubber gloves, goggles, a bug net, and maybe a machete or two, because we are off to find the swamp that President-elect Donald Trump promised us he would drain.

Before we set off blindly in search, I will let you know that I spent the past week asking people if they know where the swamp is and what it looks like. Some said it was teeming with Republicans, while others declared just the opposite—the swamp is a breeding ground for sneaky liberals.

My grandma told me that we will come to find the swamp by the stench of those who have been there far too long, marinating in their own self-worth, disconnected from those that sent them there in the first place.

When I looked to the media for clues, I discovered that the swamp is a wine bar for the 1 Percent, but then I turned the channel and found it to be a job fair where special interests went to hire professional swamp creatures and where regulations proliferate like the plague.

No matter how many different ways the swamp was described to me, each explanation contained a common thread: When we do find the swamp, do whatever we can to drain it. Americans, I was told, are tired of the system not working for them.

In my daunting quest I finally headed over to donaldjtrump.com and checked out what he had to say about the swamp. “It’s time to drain the swamp in Washington D.C.,” Trump is quoted saying in an October 17 press release. “That’s why I’m proposing a package of ethics reforms to make our government honest once again.”

According to Trump, when we find corruption in government, we will have stumbled upon the swamp. That sounds like a worthy cause, yes?

Unfortunately, a swamp does not drain fast and it does not drain easy. Think about it—those swamp creatures have been there for a long time. Coated in slime, with their tentacles securely wrapped around our democracy, they are slow moving. Not to mention the current residents of the swamp are going to do whatever they can to plug the drain—which they recently tried to do—successfully pissing me off (and you?) in the process. These dirty swamp monsters held what they hoped would be a secretive vote to castrate the Office of Congressional Ethics. The OCE is an independent, non-partisan body charged with reviewing allegations of misconduct against members of Congress. The keyword there, being “independent.” You see, the swamp people of Congress were voting to strike that part of the OCE and merge it with the House Ethics Committee. That’s right, they wanted the OCE under the control of the very people it was charged with investigating. They complained that the office was too aggressive and overzealous in its investigations.

Are you kidding me? Dear Congress, you signed up for this, remember? You are elected public officials fighting for the interests of your constituents. We need to always know that you represent us and not special interests. If you can’t handle a little ethics investigation here and there, perhaps you should step out of the swamp before you drown.

Fortunately, the plumber himself stepped in to save the day tweeting, “With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it may be, their number one act and priority…” Trump’s tweet concluded with the hashtag #dts. It was an effective move. After an emergency meeting, the House Republican Conference decided to scrap its plan, and thus the plug was removed.

Now we must ask ourselves if we think Trump really meant it. Is he serious about raking out all the muck of Washington? Or, was it the most clever campaign slogan ever?

If you think about it, what Trump did was basically say that those who have been in Washington are the swamp and he is the plumber. He took his campaign theme of “outsider vs. establishment” a step further with his advocacy to “drain the swamp.”  He is the guy who will end the establishment. Powerful stuff, right?

The only problem here, however, is that Trump will not be draining the swamp. Yes, he thinks he is a plumber, but he is not a plumber—although I’m sure he knows “the best” plumbers. You see, you can’t drain the swamp once you already inhabit it; it’s just not possible.

As president, one is forced to work within the existing system in order to get things done, and unfortunately the foundation of our democracy is built on a swamp. Rich Lowry expounded on this with his December 1 opinion piece in Politico: “The fact is that in a country with an enormous federal government and a First Amendment that guarantees the right to petition the government, the swamp is always going to be extensive and miasmic. As long as there is so much power and money in D.C., the lobbyists, the consultants, the associations, the media pooh-bahs, the contractors and the courtiers will gather and jockey for influence here.”

As citizens, as voters, we have to scrutinize the actions of our government, because we are the swamp drainers.

It doesn’t matter whether a lawmaker identifies as a Republican or a Democrat. What matters is that they represent America—us small guys. That means every time someone tries to plug the drain, we must be sitting in the brush ready to stand up and point it out. PJH

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