Trump wants to drain the swamp. He wants to run government like a business. Hell, he thinks just about everything is broken and that he can fix it. He pledged to even fix the world, fast.
He’s not the only president to promise to improve the state of government. Barack Obama also pledged reform the political system. He wanted to clean up the “muddy water” he said he swims in. Jimmy Carter said during his 1976 campaign, “The insiders have had their chance and they have not delivered. And their time has run out.” Bill Clinton promised “dramatic change” in his inauguration address. Even Andrew Jackson won based on his promises to protect the little man from corrupt Washington elites. Sound familiar?
Pretty much every president in modern history has promised that they can “fix” the “broken” Washington system. But, if things were broken all the way back in 1828, what, exactly are we trying to repair here? Has the entire US system of government been broken from the outset?
I can think of a few libertarian academics who would argue yes.
But I don’t think most people would. I’m not one for American exceptionalism, and American certainly has a whole host of very serious problems, but mostly the system works. Corruption is low. The economy grows. It hasn’t been taken over by foreign invaders. Change has been progressive.
Perhaps it’s not that the system is broken. Perhaps the system just needs to be amended, adjusted, adapted and altered. The system doesn’t need to be drained, but it does need to have its ph levels balanced. Maybe it’s not dramatic change, but smart and effective change. Maybe the time hasn’t run out, but we’re only somewhere in the first quarter. Maybe being educated and knowledgeable about a subject isn’t such a terrible thing.
I guess that doesn’t make for a great campaign slogan though.