The Essential Draining of the Swamp

Let’s Drain the Swamp!

“In the early days of our Republic, our nation’s capital was an actual swamp.”

Former Senator Jim Demint in his foreword to Drain the Swamp by Ken Buck, a Congressman representing Colorado.


The phrase “Drain the Swamp” has been used by the following individuals in the past decade and a half:

  • Winfield R. Gaylord (1870 – 1943) to describe the socialist desire to “drain” the “capitalist swamp”.
  • Victor L. Berger (1860 – 1929), who in his book Broadsides referred to changing the capitalist system as “drain[ing] the swamp”
  • Ronald Reagan, who called for “drain[ing] the swamp” of bureaucracy in the federal government in 1983.
  • Jessica Stern in “Preparing for a War on Terrorism”, Current History (November 2001) where she calls on the U.S. to see failing and failed states as sources and sanctuaries for terrorists and terrorism (the swamp) and to use foreign aid and soft power to combat them (the draining). Jessica Stern is an American scholar and academic on terrorism. Stern serves as a research professor at the Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University. Earlier she had been a lecturer at Harvard University. She serves on the Hoover Institution Task Force on National Security and Law.
  • Pat Buchanan during his 2000 presidential campaign, when he invoked the saying in opposition to the dominant political parties: “Neither Beltway party is going to drain this swamp: it’s a protected wetland; they breed in it, they spawn in it”.
  • Nancy Pelosi in 2006 while announcing her 100 Hour Plan in response to more than a decade of Republican rule.
  • Donald Trump to describe his plan to fix problems in the federal government. Subsequent protests against the role of Goldman Sachs alumni in the Trump administration also used the phrase. (Wikipedia)


“Drain the Swamp” sounds fine. However, the phrase only works as a very suggestive and evocative metaphor until we take the time to define it. We must define it, before we can actually do it.

Let’s use the following definition offered by a prominent and respected representative of the Fair Tax movement: “The Swamp has five components. They are 1. Crony Capitalists, 2. Lobbyists, 3. Special Interest Groups, 4. Deep Staters, and 5. Politicians. “He also said that the recent (2017) federal income tax “fake reforms” are “of the swamp, by the swamp and for the swamp.”


  1. We do not want to get rid of all Capitalists. Capitalism is central to the American way of life. What we want to deter are Capitalists who make backroom deals to insure profits by aggressively manipulating the Markets at the expense of the American People. We cannot give American Capitalists a slap on the wrist and declare them “…too big to fail” when their machinations are inevitably revealed. If taxpayers are forced to “bail out” companies, then the companies are not truly private.


  1. Lobbyists exert an enormous, corrupting influence on Congressmen and women in Washington. If you fund it, they will come. We should give them all bus tickets home. Then we should make it illegal for any of known Lobbyist to attempt to influence any elected American Official in any way.


  1. Special Interest Groups should be allowed to make Presentations in the Public Forum as long as they do not hire known Lobbyists to manipulate the tenor of the Public Discussion. In the spirit of Government in the Sunshine, all meetings with any elected representatives should be videotaped and posted online. Busy taxpayers should be able to hire staff to help them promote a solution to an issue, but they should not be allowed to hire Spin Doctors.


  1. Deep Staters is apparently a fairly new or re-popularized term that requires some definition all its own. Deep state was defined in 2014 by Mike Lofgren, a former Republican U.S. congressional aide, as “a hybrid association of elements of government and parts of top-level finance and industry that is effectively able to govern the United States without reference to the consent of the governed as expressed through the formal political process.” (Wikipedia) Donald Trump supporters use the term to refer to their allegations that intelligence officers and executive branch officials guide policy through leaking or other internal means. (Wikipedia) We can simplify a little by thinking of Deep Staters as any political operatives who attempt to manipulate the political discourse in secret and non-public ways. Only the actual American Security forces should be allowed to function in private. In President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1961 farewell address, he said, “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” Blaming the “military-industrial complex” seems in retrospect to be an unfortunate and misleading choice of words, but Former President Eisenhower’s warning against “unwarranted influence” is extremely important and timely today.


  1. Politicians are unavoidable. Anyone who runs for political office is a politician even if he or she foreswears the title. We do want to avoid corrupt politicians though, and Ken Buck’s book, Drain the Swamp, describes ways elected officials are corrupted as soon as they arrive in Washington. Our national representatives are sent to Washington to do the People’s work. They are not there to go to parties nor to soak up extravagant perks.