“It is time to drain the swamp in Washington, D.C.”
President-elect Donald Trump posted those words on his campaign website a few weeks before November’s general election.
During the businessman’s campaign, “drain the swamp” became a mantra aimed at what Trump deemed the “failed and corrupt political establishment.”
Trump also bashed a global elite he claimed were at the forefront of a “rigged” economy. He said he wanted a government controlled by the American people. It’s a message that resonated with millions of Americans for a number of reasons.
“At the heart of this election is a simple question: Will our country be governed by the people or will it be governed by the corrupt political class?” Trump declared at a Nov. 6 rally in Iowa.
Trump’s inauguration won’t take place until Jan. 20, but a snapshot of his presidency is already beginning to form with those he has tapped for his Cabinet posts.
So, is he actually draining the swamp? Let’s a take a look.
During his campaign, Trump remarked that “politicians are all talk, no action.” He took shots at politicians of all stripes and vilified them whenever he could. Trump prided himself as an anti-establishment outsider and populist candidate.
One may have expected him to fill his cabinet with those who fit that same description. It may have logically been expected that political newcomers would fill out Trump’s bench. However, many of Trump’s current cabinet picks are deeply entrenched in the political world.
Two of his selections have come from Congress. Alabama senator Jeff Sessions, who has been tapped for attorney general, has held political office since 1995. U.S. Rep. Tom Price, who has been nominated to head the Department of Health and Human Services, has been in legislative office since the 1990s as well.
When it comes to the political establishment, Sessions and Price aren’t even the most embedded. I’ve yet to mention Elaine Chao or Reince Priebus.
Chao, Trump’s nominee for secretary of transportation, previously served as President George W. Bush’s secretary of labor. She even held posts in George H.W. Bush’s administration. Oh yeah, she’s also married to Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell.
Then there’s Priebus, who has been named White House Chief of Staff. He heads the Republican National Committee and is former chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin. Leading a national party is about as establishment as you can get in Washington.
The choice for the Education Department, Betsy DeVos, has history as a political insider, formerly leading the Michigan GOP. She also has a lot of wealth to her name, with her family’s net worth totaling $5.1 billion.
“It’s a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our county of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities,” Trump said.
However, Trump has nominated people, like DeVos, who have prospered greatly during the reign of this so-called “global power structure.”
One of them is Steve Mnunchin, a former partner with the powerful finance company Goldman Sachs. He is slated to head the Treasury Department.
The New York Times reported that Mnuchin would be the third former Goldman Sachs employee to head the Treasury Department. The previous two were nominated by presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, two leaders Trump criticized during his campaign.
The President-elect has also announced he’s selected Wilbur Ross for Commerce Secretary. Ross, an investor, has a net worth of $2.9 million, according to POLITICO.
Trump has promised a government that the people can control, but these three picks highlight that Trump’s administration will be led by a group of wealthy individuals who are far from fitting the description of the average American.
The administration, as of now, also will be filled with political insiders deeply tied to a political system Trump often bashed as a candidate.
He hasn’t selected anyone that would be considered an outsider. He hasn’t picked Ben Carson for any position. Indiana’s own Kip Tom was floated around as a possible secretary of agriculture, but his name has evaporated. Black conservative Bob Woodson met with Trump about the position to lead Housing and Urban Development, but there seems to be no movement there.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with Trump selecting those with financial success and expertise. Those qualities could be considered vital for these important positions.
Political experience shouldn’t be a deal breaker either. I’d prefer to see an outsider president guided by those with insider knowledge.
But for Trump, these selections foil his whole message. For now, the swamp remains as full as it ever was.