Recently in downtown Dover, I saw a yard sign – doubtless in front of the home of a voter for Donald Trump – that said, “Now drain the swamp.” I have sad news for this person – “it ain’t going to happen.”
The reason is quite simple: the biggest reason that Washington, D.C., smells foul and is deep in the muck of corruption, and why so many ordinary, working-class Americans feel that the federal government no longer works for them, is because of the Republican majority in Congress.
This election, unfortunately, is going to empower them more than ever, and as a result, the “swamp” is going to get larger and more disgusting than ever! Add to this Donald Trump, who almost surely is going to be the most corrupt president in American history, and the odor emanating from D.C. is going to be overpowering.
Both of our political parties have gotten caught up in a political system awash with money, fund-raising, and the power of lobbyists, but the Republicans have become totally dominated by the power of large donors and special interests, and have been intellectually taken over by extreme right-wing ideologues who – seriously – would like to take the country back to the 1920s!
Now that they also control the White House, they are almost surely going to try to do just that! The biggest losers are going to be those ordinary, working-class voters who voted for Donald Trump, and who, in so many states, voted for a GOP Congress.
President Obama for the past six years has been trying to get Congress to pass an infrastructure bill, to begin repairing our roads, bridges, water systems, and other urgent needs, and to provide good jobs for tens of thousands of people — including laid-off coal miners and steel workers — but the Republicans refused. It will be a remarkable reversal if they change their minds now — although that would prove that they put politics above helping people. But the best guess is that they will go along with Mr. Trump’s plan – which sounds more like a tax break for investors who put up money for toll roads and other “private-public” projects, instead of the real infrastructure plan that the country needs. This will enrich investors but will do little to help the country or provide jobs.
The Republican Congress will repeal the Affordable Care Act — as candidate Trump promised — which will take health care coverage away from millions of people — but will not replace it with anything that will be as extensive or effective, thus consigning untold numbers of working-class people to sickness, bankruptcy, or death.
Congress will pass — and President Trump will sign — an income tax cut that will give its largest benefits to our richest citizens, like Mr. Trump himself. This will explode our budget deficit and do very little for ordinary citizens.
The Republican Congress will repeal the estate tax — which affects only the super-rich — which will make Mr. Trump and his family happy but will add to the deficit without doing anything to help ordinary Americans.
The Republican Congress will move to dismantle the Dodd-Frank law — which did make an effort to rein in Wall Street and the big banks — and will also try to get rid of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has been effective in protecting ordinary citizens from fraud and financial chicanery like that of Wells Fargo. Instead of protecting us from another Great Depression, Congress will invite one!
The Republican Congress will reject any effort to increase the federal minimum wage, or to protect the right of workers to organize to bargain for better wages.
Since Congress is now a virtual subsidiary of Koch Industries and other polluters, environmental protections will be cut back, our air and water will become more unhealthy, and nothing will be done to alleviate climate change, so that our grandchildren will have to deal with the devastating results of our inaction.
Medicare will be “reformed” into something that will not protect our senior citizens as well as it does now, and the Congress may even move to cut or privatize Social Security, which they have been wanting to do for a long time. It hardly bears mentioning that this will not help ordinary citizens.
Anyone who is deluded enough to think that President Trump will put a stop to any of this is in for a big disappointment. There is only one principle that he adheres to — “What’s in it for me?”
With his refusal to release his tax returns, his refusal to put his business interests into a blind trust, his debts to foreign banks, and his business properties around the world being run by his children, we are about to see the White House become a wholly owned subsidiary of Trump Enterprises. The White House will now be run like the Trump Foundation was — for his benefit — and the house that Abraham Lincoln lived in will be surrounded by a huge, smelly lake that will dwarf any swamp in Washington.
Mr. Trump’s place in history is going to be secure in one respect: he will surely be remembered as our greatest con man. He makes the previous two champions, P.T. Barnum and Charles Ponzi, look like amateurs. In light of how many people voted for him, it is time to update Mr. Barnum’s epigraph to “There’s a sucker born every second!”
The famous pundit H.L. Mencken said almost 100 years ago that “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and they deserve to get it good and hard.” After this election, Mr. Mencken has to be laughing in his grave.