It’s The Corruption, Stupid!
By Art Friedson, @artfri

Most of us remember or have been told about the time in 1992 when James Carville hung a sign at the Bill Clinton campaign headquarters that read, “It’s the economy, Stupid!” It was designed to keep everyone up and down the campaign focused on one message. Many pundits are giving that some thought as we approach 2018 and 2020, and a clear consensus seems to be emerging about the next Democratic mantra:  It’s the corruption, Stupid!

The thought seems to be that the Russian scandal is difficult to describe and hasn’t caught the imagination of the public, and the sex scandals haven’t even put a dent in evangelical support for Trump (someone please explain that to me!). But corruption has brought down mightier politicians than Donald Trump, and no one has even come close to the self-serving, unabashed greed of Trump.

Trump ran on a platform that, in effect, promised to turn back the clock to the 50’s when people (at least his audience, white people) felt prosperous. However, it’s becoming very clear that the only ones getting richer are Trump, his family and his cronies. Like the students who signed up for Trump University, the American voter is going to discover the fraud and rebel “bigly.”

New York Magazine published a piece titled 501 Days in Swampland that notes that during the inauguration parade, Trump exited the presidential limousine, “the beast,” directly in front of the newly christened Trump Hotel to meet and greet the crowd. “The carefully choreographed stop sent a clear signal to the foreign governments, lobbyists, and corporate interests keen on currying favor in Washington: The rewards of government would now be reaped by a single man – and the people would bear the cost.”

Actually, it’s not just Trump…it’s him, his family and close to a majority of his Cabinet members. Be sure to read the  NYTimes editorial that gives a brief but pointed tour of some of the more glaring scandals that are already in the public domain: the EPA’s Scott Pruitt’s outrageous expenditures of public money while turning the agency he heads from protecting to plundering the environment; the recently fired Veterans Affairs chief David Shulkin who used our money for an extended European vacation; favoritism at the FCC; outrageously expensive purchases and nepotism by Ben Carson at HUD; out-of-control travel expenses for Steve Mnuchin at Treasury, Tom Price at HHS, and Brenda Fitzgerald at CDC. But wait! That’s before we even get to the Trumps themselves: Ivanka’s trademarks in China, Jared’s reckless dash to use White House access to secure loans, and Donald Trump’s relentless promotion of properties he still controls like Mar-A-Lago and the Trump International Hotel in D.C. and much worse.

Writing in Roll Call, Walter Shapiro concludes that “[h]onesty in government is a major way that America differs from corrupt regimes in Latin America and Asia.” The Republican Congress can try all they want to look away, but this kind of greed and blatant corruption is clear, specific, and easy to demonstrate. While it may be lost for now in a cloud of tweets and turnover, it is a message that resonates with the American people and one that we can drive home every day between now and November.

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