Abandon Ye the Swamp

Abandon Ye the Swamp. By Roger Kimball.

Trump is surging in the Republican popularity stakes:

One vivid reason was vouchsafed us during the final hours of the 2023 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) program in National Harbor, Maryland, in March. It was then that Trump addressed the crowd. … Trump’s performance was long and, for Trump, well-prepared. …

I thought the talk bristled with rhetorical electricity. And in terms of substance, it was one of the most forthright and powerful political speeches I’ve heard.

Watch at least the first 20 secs — I am your retribution

Right now, as of May 20, I would say this about the 2024 race on the Republican side: There are two plausible candidates: Trump and DeSantis. DeSantis has the blessing of the donor class and Conservatism, Inc. He’s a great governor and would probably make an effective president.

Trump has the unwavering support of the MAGA millions and most allotropes of the dissident Right. There’s plenty of exasperation about Trump, not least among those who worked with him in his first term. He’s a difficult, demanding, and mercurial person. But his CPAC speech (and, more recently, his performance at a CNN “townhall” with Kaitlan Collins) demonstrated why he’s beloved by his supporters and feared and hated by his opponents.

Trump said many bold and controversial things in the course of his speech. I’ll concentrate on two themes. The first — it was the thing that really set heads spinning — revolved around the word “retribution.”

“In 2016,” he said, “I declared, I am your voice. Today, I add, I am your warrior, I am your justice, and for those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution.”

And just in case you missed that last bit, he repeated it. “I am your retribution.”

The pundits love-hated that, just as they were appalled by this promise: “I will totally obliterate the deep state.” I think he meant it, too. “I will fire the unelected bureaucrats and shadow forces who have weaponized our justice system. . . . I will put the people back in charge of this country again.”

’Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.

How to obliterate the deep state:

Could he actually do it? That’s a very good question. His track record during his first term was impressive but not dispositive, partly because he was surrounded by the swamp and its denizens. Really, he didn’t know any better. He came to office as an outsider, a naïf. He actually thought that Jim Mattis and Rex Tillerson were on his side. Imagine that.

He has been disabused of those sentiments, though who exactly he can rely on as allies remains an open question. Personnel will once again be a critical problem for Trump were he to reoccupy 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Here’s a bit of unsolicited advice that I have for the former president should he be elected again: Stay out of Washington as much as you can. Stop the newspapers. Have your mail forwarded.

Washington really is a swamp and it will consume you. And here are a few particular bits of advice:

1) Have the inauguration in Mar-a-Lago.

2) Govern from Florida as much as you can.

3) If you decide to indulge in the theater of the State of the Union Address as it has evolved, deliver it from, say, Kansas.

4) Disband the FBI. We should never have allowed a national police force to come into being.

Move the bits of the government you can’t actually destroy to other parts of the country.

Do these things instantly — the day you take office. The deep state will howl. The bureaucrats will oppose you. The lawyers will sue you. Do it anyway. Act first, deal with the consequences later.

Conduct metaphorical dawn-raids on their people and institutions just as they weaponized the Justice Department against you and your supporters. That would not only be the retribution you seek, it would also be reciprocity. Speed and thoroughness will be of the essence. If you hesitate, if you are half-hearted, you will be lost.

Move everything you can out of Washington. Remember, the president is in charge of the machinery of government, so in theory it’s his call:

The focus should be on eclipsing Washington, D.C. as the seat of government. It has long been obvious to candid observers that there is something deeply dysfunctional about that overwhelmingly Democratic, welfare-addicted city. It is a partisan sinkhole. …

The more I think about our situation, the more I believe the only hope for the republic is to downgrade the place of Washington in our public life. The business of Washington is to make government bigger — forever. That is not what the people, who pay for it, want. Legitimacy is draining out of our governing institutions at an alarming rate. Stanching that debilitating flow requires that we redirect our attention away from the greedy puppet show in Washington to the true source of legitimacy, which is with the people.

Trump is one of the few people with the temerity to attempt such a thing. Perhaps he can appease some of his critics by proposing we rename Washington to George Floyd City. I would be OK with that. In any event, the actual government of the country should be moved to some neutral ground, out of the overwhelmingly corrupt cesspool that is Washington.

Big call, and quite correct. We’ve been suggesting a similar move in Australia for years to anyone who seems interested, starting with quickly killing the mothership of political correctness in Australia, the ABC.