President Donald Trump was elected in an unprecedented wave of populist sentiment with a mandate to “drain the swamp.” True to his word, he has been lopping off heads and handing out pink slips, but Trump’s failure to understand the nature of politics is contributing to a growing paralysis that could derail the “Trump train” before it even reaches the station.
Probably owing in large part to his New York business mindset and real estate background, Trump is employing a bit of wisdom from the Godfather: “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”
Unfortunately for Trump (and the downtrodden American workers who put him in the White House), the Godfather approach is wrong when it comes to U.S. politics.
That is because business and politics — while sharing a cut-throat, dog-eat-dog culture — have radically different rules for success. Business creates real value, whereas politics consumes existing value and creates nothing. The “swamp” is not just a euphemism for the visible disease of compounding corruption plaguing American politics: it is the nature of the system.
By its very nature, American politics is extractionist. Public “services” must extract value from healthy sectors of the economy, transferring wealth to public “servants” through taxes. The problem is systemic.
That is why any plan to “drain the swamp” must always begin with a fresh start — no old names, no carry-overs, and no career bureaucrats. The “old guard” must be forcibly removed, since the incentive to participate in measures targeting their own income and well-being (albeit at the expense of taxpayers) is minimal, if not completely nonexistent.
Out of a total of 688 political appointee positions, 442 remain filled by holdovers appointed by former President Barack Obama. Only 63 replacements were formally nominated by Trump and only 39 were actually confirmed, according to Partnership for Public Service’s “Political Appointee Tracker.”
Morton Blackwell, founder of the Leadership Institute, has been training conservatives for careers in public policy for years. “Personnel are policy,” Blackwell famously state in his rulebook, “Laws of the Public Policy Process.”
Trump arguably violated Blackwell’s “personnel” rule by appointing people simply because they were objectively smart or recommended to him by one of his business friends. In the White House, it’s not enough to be smart and conservative if the goal is actual and lasting change in the conservative direction.
Any successful conservative denizen of the Oval Office must surround himself with people who genuinely believe in his agenda. And, those of us who are veterans in the conservative movement know very few conservatives on Trump’s team.
Perhaps not for lack of trying, many of the brightest and most experienced conservatives were never even interviewed. Hundreds of Reagan-era conservatives who have years of experience running organizations, serving at think tanks, etc., tried to get aboard the “Trump train” but most were never even contacted.
In point of fact, all pro-Trump White House employees were put on a 120-day cycle with automatic termination by Jeb Bush loyalist — Johnny DeStefano — Trump’s head of White House Personnel.
“Over 800 Trump supporters hold positions as Schedule C Federal Employees. These positions are temporary, and expire after 120 days,” according to White House correspondent Mike Cernovich. “Fewer than 15% of Trump’s temporary appointees (Schedule C) have been given permanent positions. Their terms are coming up, and they are being sent home.”
DeStefano defends his sabotage of Trump’s workforce by claiming it takes time to hire the best and the brightest. These remarks appear disingenuous, since DeStefano shuts out major corporate Trump donors like Paypal CEO Peter Thiel, who have extensive staffing experience.
DeStefano’s transparent attack on Trump is made even more obvious with his decision to hire rabid “Never Trumpers” Brian Hook and Scott Garrett.
DeStefano is also coordinating with new National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster to “Make the NSC Democrat Again,” reports Cernovich. “We need to professionalize the NSC, and that means bringing in more Democrats,” McMaster was overheard saying at a meeting.
In addition to the undue influence held by DeStefano over White House staff, George Soros has major ties to at least two members of the Trump administration, including Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin and Trump’s own son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
Trump campaigned against Soros’ influence in 2016, a fact now at odds with current White House staffing choices.
Burning down the house and starting over, therefore, must be the foundation of any true swamp drain. And, far from burning down the house, Trump is relying on the counsel of some of the oldest career bureaucrats in the echo chamber that is Washington, D.C., to implement his policies. If Trump is stunned at the dozens of leaks concerning his every conversation and meeting, he has no one to blame but himself. He has people all around him who do not support his agenda punching a clock and adding years to their government pension plan.
The Godfather principle is on full display in Trump’s administration, and his enemies are not just close; they’re making important policy decisions.
The impact of Trump’s approach is becoming increasingly obvious:
- Trump’s budget funded most of the Democrat Party’s priorities, including Planned Parenthood, but zeroed out funding for the border wall.
- Trump failed to reverse Obama’s unconstitutional amnesty orders.
- Trump did not pull out of the Iranian nuclear deal, which allows Iran – the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the Middle East — to eventually develop nuclear weapons.
- Trump backed away from supporting Israel’s desire to move their capital to Jerusalem.
- Trump praised Turkish President Tayyip Edrogan, a man who funds the terrorist group Hamas and supports ISIS by buying captured oil from them.
- Trump’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) continues to conduct “outreach” meetings with terror-friendly Islamic groups like the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) — a group that openly supports Hamas and denies Osama Bin Laden’s role in 9/11 — and DHS also refuses to reverse its hostile takeover of presidential elections during the final months of the Obama presidency.
Meanwhile, conservatives are waiting in the wings for a job with the Trump administration. What is wrong with this picture?
It is time to truly drain the swamp, and that should start with DeStefano’s head, as well as lie detector tests for all staffers who have access to Trump’s meetings and conversations.