I really do think it was this populist wave that got Donald Trump elected, and “drain the swamp” captures it. When Trump sticks to his campaign promises and does something I agree with, I’ll applaud him. When he does something that goes against the promises he made during the campaign, I will call him out on it.
It’s as simple as that.
This year’s presidential election orbited around a handful of themes. Among the most significant was change. Millions of voters chose Trump because they thought he signaled change — actual change. He may be ideologically vacuous and dangerously unprepared, they thought, but he’s different, one of those mythical “outsiders” who can roll into Washington and clean house.
“It is time to drain the swamp,” Trump wrote in an October press release. “Decades of failure in Washington, and decades of special interest dealing, must come to an end. We have to break the cycle of corruption, and we have to give new voices a chance.”
For Trump, breaking the “cycle of corruption” meant, among other things, instituting a five-year ban on various forms of lobbying, with particular emphasis on blocking former government officials from lobbying once they leave office.
Like virtually everything Trump said on the campaign trail, this promise strained credulity. Still, millions of Americans were persuaded by his anti-establishment posturing.
If they weren’t racists or nativists, they were willing to overlook his racism and nativism on the hope that he’d “shake things up,” or at the very least run some of the special interests out of town. Many fringe conservatives, including current and former officeholders, were equally convinced that Trump represented real change.
One such conservative was former US Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois, a member of the Tea Party. Initially a Rand Paul supporter, Walsh became a consistent defender of Trump after he earned the nomination. But just a few weeks into Trump’s transition, Walsh has noticed what many of us already knew: Trump isn’t in the swamp-draining business.
Read the rest of my interview on Vox