On the night of Nov. 8th and the early morning of Nov. 9th the final results of key states like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania poured in and the results became clear. Donald J. Trump would be the next President of the United States. A chant spread across his campaign headquarters. “Drain the swamp! Drain the swamp! Drain the swamp!”
This chant became a clarion call to many as of why Trump won the election, despite having such unfavorable numbers and causing so many scandals and gaffes. It clarified that voters, regardless how they felt about Trump’s policies, were entirely fed up with Washington and demanded change. A change that they believed couldn’t be found in Hillary Clinton, a longtime political player, former Secretary of State, Senator and First Lady. However, as Trump began to name the members of his Cabinet and lay the foundations of his administration, one thing was made very clear: If you supported Trump because you wanted an end to corruption in Washington, you were duped.
Let’s begin the appointment of Secretary of State. This decision caused the most speculation. After weeks of speculation about familiar candidates like Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, and Mitt Romney, Trump instead has announced he intends to nominate Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon-Mobil, to be America’s top diplomat and run the State Department. No question of Tillerson not being a “drain the swamp” nominee. As CEO of Exxon Mobile, he led numerous lobbying campaigns to end or weaken sanctions against Russia in order for him and his company to profit. He was granted one of the highest honors a foreigner can receive by Russian President Vladimir Putin himself. Regardless of where you stand on Russia or sanctions, it should be clear that Tillerson, a multi-millionaire CEO who favors free trade and has been an active lobbyist both in the United States and abroad, is not the populist draining of the Washington swamp candidate Trump promised.
Another clear example of this is Trump’s second highest cabinet post, Secretary of the Treasury, where he has nominated Steve Mnuchin. Again, many articles have focused on Mnuchin’s somewhat lacking resume as a hedge fund manager and Wall street executive, ignoring that he is the embodiment of everything Trump voters riled against. Trump claimed that Goldman Sachs “robbed our working class” yet nominated a Goldman Sachs banker to be his Treasury Secretary after months of railing against Clinton for her ties to the bank? Mnuchin openly admits that he “has very good friends on Wall Street” and hasn’t distanced himself at all. Not only did Mnuchin work at Goldman Sachs, he also has a laundry list of shady involvement with groups like IndyMac, which has faced dozens of lawsuits (including one for discriminatory housing and zoning in a development Mnuchin helped run) and is one of the poster children of the bad banking that brought on the housing crisis.
Further down into the lower levels of Trump cabinet we continue to see big lobbyists like Betsy Devos, big bankers like Wilbur Ross, millionaire CEO's like Andrew Puzder and Linda McMahon, and members of the Republican establishment like Jeff Sessions. These individuals who almost all support free trade, lax laws on campaign finance, and a Washington that works the way it has in the past, for the rich and not the poor. These appointees are a far cry from the revolution Trump promised and that his voters endorsed.