Draining the Swamp

With our nation still reeling from the political and social whirlwinds encompassing the 60s, most Americans hoped that the 1970s would usher in a new era of calm. That calm would never come. Soon after the turn of the decade in 1974, our nation’s citizens watched on TV as a disgraced President Nixon admitted to wiretapping his political opponents, stealing important documents, and abusing his executive authority in a failed cover up. Just when we thought public trust in our government officials couldn’t get any lower: four years later in 1978, members of the FBI, suspicious about corruption within Congress, set up a sting operation called Operation ABSCAM. Through this investigation they exposed seven sitting members of Congress for taking cash bribes. [1]

These events weren’t the first nor would they be the last time corruption was on the forefront of our nation’s politics. The way it stands today, most folks, regardless of political affiliation, view Washington, D.C., as a swamp[2]—and rightfully so. From John Edwards to Tom Price, we consistently are shown that the ones who we elect and expect to serve us end up serving themselves. 

Outlined below is a blueprint for how we can ensure a more transparent and accountable government. By cracking down on corruption and reforming the status quo in Washington D.C., we can restore the integrity of our politics and affirm that our government works for “We The People.

Increase Transparency 

Just like NASCAR drivers display their sponsors on their jackets and cars, we should be able to easily identify who is funding our politicians, the ones who create policy and make decisions that affect everyday people like you and me. We should create an easy-to-access form on every congressional website disclosing all campaign donations. If a candidate or elected official is doing the right thing and they are proud of who is supporting them, this reform will have no impact on them. However, if there is a large special interest offering money to a candidate, they will think twice about whether they want to accept the money, and how they will be accountable to voters. This reform doesn’t reduce anyone’s freedom or limit any constitutional rights, but it does shine light on an important issue for constituents. 

Close the revolving door between K Street and Congress 

Impose a lifetime ban on being a paid lobbyist for congressional members. The same goes for cabinet members and their immediate family members. Too many times, public service becomes a springboard into a lucrative self-serving career. Out of the 105 members of the 115th congress not returning as of January 2019, 45% have already joined a lobbying firm. [3] This type of behavior undermines not just the integrity of public office but also blurs the lines for policymakers when casting their vote. 

Ban the buying or selling of stocks while serving in Congress. 

Simply put, if you have the stewardship of making decisions that directly affect our economy, you should not be able to profit. Congressional members should be mandated to put their assets in a blind trust so they can keep their assets, but put a total stop to any whisper of insider trading. 

Prevent politicians from fundraising during working hours.


Most federal politicians spend between three and seven hours a day fundraising from big donors instead of working on issues that matter to voters. [4] By passing a law preventing politicians from raising money during the workday, they can focus on serving their constituents—the job they were elected to do. If they do their job right, the funds will come. 

Enforce tougher penalties on bribery, quid-pro-quo deals, and other corruption.

It’s a well-known fact that the elite members of our society have the means to pay for good lawyers who can fight the nuances and cut deals getting their clients off easy. By enhancing penalties for these white collar crimes we can show as a nation that no one—no matter how much money or power they have—is above the law. 

Our founding fathers knew that power unchecked would lead to corruption. Samuel Adams warned that “Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt.”[5] These powerful reforms go beyond just a step in the right direction. They send a message across our nation, codifying the sacred ideal that real leaders put service over self. The swamp won’t drain itself! It’s on us to restore integrity to our government. When Benjamin Franklin was asked what sort of government he and the other framers had crafted, his reply was a challenge to you and me :
“…A Republic, if you can keep it.” [6]

[1]https://etd.auburn.edu/bitstream/handle/10415/3384/Larceny%20In%20My%20Heart.pdf?sequence=2&isAllowed=y

[2]http://www.people-press.org/2017/12/14/public-trust-in-government-1958-2017/

[3]https://www.opensecrets.org/revolving/departing.php?cong=115

[4] https://represent.us/anticorruption-act/

[5] http://www.samuel-adams-heritage.com/quotes/morality.html

[6]https://constitutioncenter.org/learn/educational-resources/historical-documents/perspectives-on-the-constitution-a-republic-if-you-can-keep-it

The following two tabs change content below.

Tyler Clancy

TYLER CLANCY is a proud South Carolina native, studying Family Life here at BYU. He has been involved in the community from a young age, working on a number of campaigns on the local, state, and federal level. Besides being the former President of the BYU Republicans, he is an All-American Lacrosse player for the cougars, works at an ice cream shop, and is one of the founding board members at the Utah Center for Civic Improvement. His true passion is found in the kitchen: exploring new food and new flavors from across the world.

Tyler Clancy

TYLER CLANCY is a proud South Carolina native, studying Family Life here at BYU. He has been involved in the community from a young age, working on a number of campaigns on the local, state, and federal level. Besides being the former President of the BYU Republicans, he is an All-American Lacrosse player for the cougars, works at an ice cream shop, and is one of the founding board members at the Utah Center for Civic Improvement. His true passion is found in the kitchen: exploring new food and new flavors from across the world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *