By David DePriest, Contributing News Columnist
Posted 11:10 AM EST, Fri., Nov. 18, 2016
In the final days of Donald Trump’s “successful” presidential campaign (in so far as success can be defined as abusing an archaic system to supercede the will of the people), the president-elect debuted a new slogan to sell his campaign to middle America: “Drain the swamp.” A bit of explanation: The swamp is an analogy for Washington and its revolving door of lobbyists and career politicians. Trump wants to “drain” it by removing those politicians and lobbyists. It’s an articulation of his outsider status; that he is the man who will get all those vicious parasites out of the government. He’ll make it work again, he’ll make it “great” again.
As a piece of political sloganeering, it’s hot garbage. It’s obtuse, and it lacks the simplicity and wistful conservative edge that made “Make America Great Again” so effective. The term is not a good slogan. As a hint into his governing philosophy, many saw his slogan as just good enough to secure their votes. To many in states like Michigan and Ohio, the hope of Trump “draining the swamp” was more alluring than Hillary “breaking down barriers.” To them, Trump’s thinly-veiled racism and sexism meant nothing so long as he got rid of the rampant corruption that defines Washington. To them, Hillary was nothing more than an alligator in a swamp, and the two FBI letters that appeared in the campaign’s final weeks only reified this idea.
In the top four positions in his White House, Trump has chosen Mike Pence as Vice President, Reince Priebus as Chief of Staff, Stephen Bannon as chief strategist, and is considering Jamie Dimon for Treasury Secretary. As former governor of Indiana, Pence was one of the most vehemently anti-gay governors in American history; Reince Priebus, an attorney and politician has been the chief architect of the GOP’s obstructionist posturing; Stephen Bannon, the head of neo-Nazi propaganda/alt-right news website Breitbart, has a history of violence against women, of violent racist/anti-Semitic rhetoric and actions, in addition to being the brains behind Trump’s “lock her up” campaign against Hillary Clinton; and finally, Jamie Dimon, the president of JP Morgan-Chase, is the ultimate corrupt lobbyist, so deeply entrenched in “the swamp” that he is liable to start decomposing.
Trump’s picks reiterate the disheartening truth of his emergent administration: It’s no less corrupt than any other administration, and is in fact demonstrably more so, as he brings in more elitists such as Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani to captain what is increasingly looking like a nightmarish rehash of the George W. Bush administration, albeit with a less-intelligent chief executive leading it all.
Trump’s policies embody the same casually racist, economically predatory policies that have held the Republican Party captive since the Reagan years. We’ll see more radical deregulation of Wall Street, leaving them to do exactly what they did in 2008, but on a more massive scale and on a more fragile economy. We’ll see racial justice policies informed by hateful white men with nothing to lose in increasing incarceration and sentencing discrepancies. We’ll see immigration policies that favor large corporations that exploit the labor of undocumented immigrants, and then demonize those same immigrants if they ever try to step out of the shadows.
Trump, in one of the only coherent parts of his campaign stump speeches, would often read the poem “The Snake,” likening people of color and immigrants to the titular snake. The poem tells of a woman who, upon finding a wounded snake on the side of the road, takes him in and nurses him back to health. Once he’s fully healed, he betrays the woman, injecting her with poison and absconding. The woman, perplexed at the betrayal, asks the snake why he betrayed her. He simply responds “you knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in.”
We know Donald Trump is a snake. We as a nation have taken him in. And now, we can only wait for the bite.