Trump Slogans, Operative and Inoperative

by Jay Nordlinger

Any campaign worth its salt has a slogan or two, and the Trump campaign had more than most. There was #MAGA, of course — “Make America Great Again.” It appeared on the hat. And “Lock Her Up.” I recall that General Flynn had a hard time leading a chant of that one. And “America First.”

This last one — borrowed from Charles Lindbergh and Pat Buchanan — was always pitted against “globalism.” What’s “globalism,” by the way? Have the president-elect and his camp ever defined it? Trade? Alliances? Immigration? Engagement with the world?

And then there was “Drain the Swamp.”

When he was Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski gave an interview to Steve Bannon. In due course, Lewandowski would leave the campaign and Bannon would join it. During their interview, Lewandowski discussed what he called “the ruling class in Washington, D.C. — the party bosses, the K Street crowd, the lobbyists who control all these politicians.”

He said, “What you have is a series of people who’ve made a very, very good living by controlling politicians through their donations and making sure they get the legislation done,” etc. “And those days are coming to an end.”

After the election, something curious happened. Lewandowski told Fox News that “Drain the Swamp” was no longer so important. In fact, it was “probably somewhere down at the bottom” of the incoming administration’s priorities. For his part, Newt Gingrich told NPR that Trump was no longer interested in “Drain the Swamp.” He was through with the slogan, if not the concept. “I’m told he now just disclaims that,” said Gingrich.

Not so fast. Trump himself took to Twitter to correct his troops: “Someone incorrectly stated that the phrase ‘DRAIN THE SWAMP’ was no longer being used by me. Actually, we will always be trying to DTS.”

Along with an old colleague from the campaign, Corey Lewandowski is setting up shop a block from the White House. The next four years, or eight, may turn out to be pretty good for the “swamp.”

At one of Trump’s post-election rallies, the crowd started to chant “Lock Her Up.” Old habits — whipped-up habits — die hard. Trump said, “No, no. That plays great before the election. Now we don’t care, right?”

Ponder those words: “That plays great before the election.” In some ways, Trump is a non-politician, even an anti-politician. It is a key part of his appeal. But rarely will you hear a politician make a statement so openly cynical.

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