While out on the campaign trail, a favorite refrain of Donald Trump’s was “drain the swamp”! That promise was about as genuine and well-conceived as his wall/steel slats/beaded curtain border security plan is now. Although there are varying interpretations as to what Trump meant by the phrase, in the common vernacular one would expect serious ethics reforms and anti-corruption initiatives to follow. Instead the self-professed outsider who loved to tout his credentials of not being a politician didn’t skip a beat in rigging the political system in his favor. In fact he and his cronies are playing it like a finely tuned fiddle.
Take for example former HHS Secretary Tom Price, who resigned after it was learned he chartered expensive private flights at taxpayer expense, or former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke whose daily calendars were as private as Brett Kavanaugh’s were public, and then there was former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt’s closed-door meetings with fossil fuel executives and his $43,000 soundproof booth. The list goes on.
In case you missed it, the hypocrisy isn’t limited to the president’s cabinet. From Ivanka Trump’s special Chinese licensing deals to the Secret Service tab at Mar-A-Lago to whatever it is Erik and Donald Jr. do, it seems the main offender is the commander in chief himself. Case in point - the current government shut-down. While families struggle to pay mortgages and put food on the table, and our national parks fill with trash, an historic clock tower at Trump International Hotel in D.C. remains open and fully staffed by National Park Service rangers. Can you say “conflict of interest”?
No, this is not the first administration to engage in scurrilous practices, nor are the transgressions confined to the Executive Branch, but the current resident of the Oval Office makes Abscam look like an old ladies’ sewing circle. This is why it’s encouraging that the new House of Representatives presented as its priority legislation H.R. 1 or the For the People Act. It is a 4-prong bill that is both symbolic yet has teeth. It consists of 571 pages of existing problems and proposed solutions regarding voting, money in politics, ethics and corruption, and redistricting.
*Here are some of the key provisions of H.R. 1 as outlined by NPR’s Peter Overby:
Voting and election laws
As for redistricting, one of the more “radical” proposals is to take the power to draw districts away from the states and give that authority to an independent commission.
*Taken from House Democrats Introduce Anti-Corruption Bill As Symbolic 1st Act, NPR politics, January 5, 2019.
It probably doesn't need to be said, but it's a lot to chew all in one bite, and many of these measures have been proposed before without success. But with new energy in Congress and those of us here at home manning the pumps, maybe we can drain that swamp after all.
posted by Amy Levengood
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