Is there a swamp that needs draining?
On a friend’s FB post he posed the above question, and, after a few days, weighed in with the below response.
But first, some background. I know several people who work for the federal government, three of them closely. 1) A biologist who works for the Fish & Wildlife, 2) my sister in law who works for the FAA, and 3) my niece who works for GSA. All in Colorado. I know many who are civilians or civilian contractors with the DOD and have given background checks for numerous people applying for jobs that require clearance. In no instance have I suspected or been aware of any government employee or agency that is corrupt. So, no I don’t think the swamp needs draining because I think the argument most people have is the agency’s decisions regarding laws that Congress enacted and the President signed. I do, however, have many issues with many political appointees and their ties to the very industries/views of their department and how it is supposed to regulate (Wheeler at the EPA, Pai at the FCC, Pompeo at State, Devoss at Education).
While I agree that there is a history of rogue agencies (particularly the FBI, CIA, and NSA), many of those programs have been exposed. COINTELPRO was discontinued 1971, but many groups on the left still hold a lot of suspicions about the FBI (see AIM or EarthFirst!). The CIA’s use of black sites and extraditing Al-Qaeda suspects that came to light through many mainstream media stories. And the NSA warrantless wiretapping which was exposed by Edward Snowden. Many people on the left have been alarmed about the expanded powers of the above agencies after 9–11 and the Patriot Act. The Inspector General for the Intelligence Community highlighted many problems with the FISA Court process, which many on the left have been pointing out for years.
It suddenly becomes an issue for the right when it was used against Trump but it was always a problematic process. Likewise, I don’t think FBI agents having an opinion on a particular President or candidate is necessarily disqualifying (Page & Strokz) as there were also FBI agents who were pro-Trump (strange we don’t know their names). The right also likes to point to Comey as either the “leaker-in-chief” or somehow a liberal actively working to undermine Trump when in fact he publicly announced that he was re-opening the HIllary Clinton investigation just days before the election, yet never announced that the FBI was investigating the Trump campaign until after the election. So, many on the left view Comey as putting his thumb on the scales in favor of Trump. They also don’t seem to remember that Trump had control of both houses of Congress, who opened their own investigations, and Rod Rosenstein was a Trump appointee who appointed another life-long Republican, Mueller, to be the special counsel. So, if there was conspiracy to undermine the Trump presidency it came from his own party.
So, in summary, do I think there is a swamp that needs draining? No. What needs to change is how we hold our elected officials accountable, how they become elected officials in the first place. We need election reform; we need to get money out of politics; we need to end the revolving door of electors leaving office then getting high powered jobs as lobbyists. We need to make sure we have free and fair elections, safeguarding that no country is interfering and no one is gaming the system, and end the process of gerrymandering so that the electors get to choose their voters (and both parties have done it). We can have discussions about how we achieve that, but it isn’t going to be an easy discussion or reducible to an easy soundbite.