Despite 21 straight months of screaming headlines from both anti-Trump and pro-Trump media, virtually nothing about Washington, DC and it’s empire has changed.
There are still US troops and their suppliers voraciously consuming taxes all over the world. Not a single regulatory agency has been eliminated or significantly cut. Entitlements continue their headlong sprint towards fiscal oblivion. And federal spending continues to outpace inflation, faster under Republicans, as usual.
And honestly, neither Republicans nor Democrats voted against any of that.
Trump was able to win the 2016 election not because he was going to radically change Washington, DC, but because he was going to superficially change its marketing from “progressive” to “conservative.” To be fair, he never promised to cut anything. On the contrary, he promised not to touch Social Security or Medicare and to increase spending on the military. He’s kept both promises.
He did promise to eliminate two regulations for every new one, but that is a very vague promise. Suppose there was one regulation that said all construction workers had to wear hard hats and another regulation that said they all had to wear safety googles. Repealing both regulations and replacing them with one that says, “All construction workers must wear hard hats and safety goggles” is perfectly consistent with Trump’s promise. Is that what his regulators are doing? It’s hard to tell. It appears the federal register is smaller, but is the economy fundamentally less regulated? What happened to getting rid of whole federal departments, as Republicans promised to do just six years ago?
The truth is the so-called Swamp continues because most Americans don’t really want to drain it, despite overwhelming evidence that everything it does creates large-scale human misery. Just ask any ten neighbors if they’d support cutting Social Security or Medicare, much less eliminating either, or cutting the military by even 30% (which would still leave it by far the largest in the world). Ask them if they’d support getting rid of the Departments of Education, Agriculture, or even the completely useless Department of Commerce.
When push comes to shove, they won’t even support getting rid of the TSA, which is Oh-fer in seventeen years on preventing actual terrorist attacks and still has a well over 90% fail rate in detecting dangerous items on its own tests. That’s not to mention the nightmarish surveillance state, five years after Edward Snowden exposed it. Americans are only upset about it when it spies on politicians – a completely backwards position in a supposedly free country.
The mid-term elections are approaching and the usual “this is the last chance to save the republic” rhetoric is already reaching a fever pitch. In reality, nothing about the republic has changed or will change until a critical mass of Americans truly want less government. Right now, that’s hard to imagine considering who wins elections.
Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.