NOTHSTINE: On Trumps proposal to drain the swamp

The North State Journal | Eamon Queeney

It’s mostly old folklore that Washington D.C. was built on a swamp. But few can argue that the Federal City is not a cesspool of corruption. As government grows, it’s no coincidence that the three wealthiest counties in America are all suburbs of the District of Columbia. Centralized power is a hugely profitable business, and as Lord Acton’s dictum reminds us: Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.For all his moral and political flaws, it is undeniable that Donald Trump has been able to tap into large segments of the population who feel cast aside by Washington. Trump knows this and is ratcheting up the populism.He recently called for or a constitutional amendment for congressional term limits and introduced a five-point plan for ethics reforms on lobbyists. Part of Trump’s proposal includes banning federal lawmakers and aides from lobbying for five years after they leave government. Trump too proposed stopping “registered foreign lobbyists from raising money in American elections.”Sen. Ben Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska and an extremely vocal opponent of Trump, called the proposal “serious,” adding that all five points have merit and are worthy of consideration. However, Congress is unlikely to act on any measure that might limit their ability to jump to even more financially lucrative careers as lobbyists. The old adage that nobody likes Congress except for his or her representative is proven time and again through re-election.This current election cycle though is a great reminder of the rampant political corruption, but unlike many of the recent headline-grabbing scandals, most of the graft inside the beltway is legal.The whole notion of constitutional government used to be that government was the servant of the citizen and not its master; that thinking has almost entirely been inverted. Some politicians in power even unleash the bureaucratic state, the IRS being an excellent example, as political weapons against Americans.Trump at least knows that the growth of the unelected bureaucratic state is a threat to everyday Americans. But conservatives should be weary of proposals that might limit speech in a way that prevents organizations from hiring their top choices to lobby on their behalf. Although it tends to carry a negative connotation, lobbyists educate lawmakers on legislation and help to mobilize Americans in defeating many bad bills. After all, the National Rifle Association is one of the most powerful lobbying groups — but they are empowered for the simple reason they have the backing of so many Americans.The only real and lasting solution to the ethics crisis and corruption is a smaller federal government. The principles of federalism exist for a reason, which fundamentally teach that the government closest to the people governs best.”The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the state governments are numerous and indefinite,” declared James Madison in the Federalist Papers. Calvin Coolidge once noted that if the federal government were the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of government, it would prove costly. The $20 trillion dollar federal debt proves his point.Donald Trump is right when it comes to the federal swamp needing to be drained, but he’s not saying anything new about the abuse of power. More importantly, if citizens do not have the foresight to wrestle control back from the entrenched power in Washington, then it won’t matter who is president or what party is in power.