Since Donald Trump won the 44th greatest landslide in American presidential history, the hard-working staff here at Spoiler Alerts has been having a little bit of fun on Twitter:
Now this has upset some Trump supporters on Twitter. At the risk of incurring the wrath of E.B. White, I thought it might be a good idea to explain its purposes.
There were three macro reasons to vote for Trump for president. The first reason is that you self-identify as a Republican, he was on the ballot as the GOP candidate for president. Q.E.D. Fine, I get that, but there’s no point in debating the merits of Trump with you. All you care about is his party label. Peace be with you, my friend.
The second reason is that Trump promised policies that you support. This is a really good reason to support the president-elect. We are already seeing the outlines of how Trump’s administration intends to repeal and replace Obamacare, for example. Policy was not a huge part of the 2016 election cycle. But if you held views on immigration or the Supreme Court that matched Trump’s, that’s a very legitimate reason to have voted for him.
The third reason is that Hillary Clinton, with her private server and nonprofit foundation that mixed politics and philanthropy, was seen as the epitome of a corrupt political class, and that Trump will drain the swamp in D.C. This was a very potent theme. Even Clinton’s staff knew the email server was a colossal screw-up. The appearance of conflicts of interest involving the Clinton Foundation raised eyebrows. WikiLeaks revealed that in speeches, Clinton admitted that there were things one said in private that perhaps did not reflect what is said in public. All of this was transpiring as American distrust of institutions reached new heights. At times, Trump himself acknowledged being part of the political money machine, but also said that because he knew how the system worked, only he could fix it.
If fighting corruption in D.C. is the reason you voted for Trump, well, you got played.
Even during the campaign, Trump thought “drain the swamp” was a corny slogan. But since he won the election, we’ve been able to observe the following:
- Trump chose, for his national security adviser, someone who sat in on classified intelligence briefings while serving foreign clients. That same national security adviser-designate told a Japanese official not to pay attention to Trump’s campaign rhetoric on Japan.
- Trump has continued to have business meetings with foreign partners.
- He has had family members who will be running his business sit in on meetings and phone calls with foreign heads of state.
- Trump’s nonprofit foundation has admitted that it has violated the legal ban on “self-dealing.”
- Trump himself has acknowledged the massive conflicts of interest involving his overseas real estate holdings and American foreign policy, but also said “the law is totally on my side, meaning, the president can’t have a conflict of interest.”
Charges of hypocrisy in Washington are akin to charges of gambling in Casablanca. There’s a fair amount of eye-rolling going on. And as I said, there were other reasons people voted for Trump. The notion that he was going to drain the swamp, however, seemed like a pretty potent theme during the campaign. And we can already be pretty sure that there will be no swamp-draining. Trump has merely added his own family and his retinue to the existing swamp.
Maybe Trump will prove to have fantastic policies that make America great again. But for the next four years, Trump’s supporters will not be able to make the claim that he’s fighting corruption in Washington. If anything, Trump, his family and his cronies appear poised to leverage the power of the federal government to enrich themselves. And anyone who tells you differently is selling you something.