Here is my take on the 2016 election and its aftermath. By the end of President Barack Obama's second term, it had become evident to a big chunk of the electorate that the corruption in Washington, D.C., had reached a fever pitch. It responded by voting for an outsider to clean things up. Donald Trump won the election by promising to "drain the swamp."

Trump Immigration

In this Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017 photo, President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. Trump is calling for “Merit Based immigration” following the truck attack in New York City that killed eight people and injured 11. Trump says on Twitter Wednesday that the driver in Tuesday’s attack “came into our country through what is called the ‘Diversity Visa Lottery Program,’ a Chuck Schumer beauty.” (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Caught by surprise, the mainstream media was incredulous at the outcome. But voting is more nuanced than most people think. Votes "against" something count just as much as votes "for." Although Trump was an unattractive candidate in many respects, the collective desire to be rid of the established, corrupt ruling elite was stronger than the distaste of giving the White House to a behaviorally challenged POTUS. The unhinged and virulent obstructionism that followed was, in my view, a consequence of identity politics, which induced us to take our eyes off the ball. The problem isn't Trump or Hillary Clinton, Paul Manafort or Tony Podesta; it is that Washington, D.C., has become the central marketplace for cash, power and influence — i.e., "the swamp."

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It's possible that Trump is himself part of the swamp, in which case he is not likely to deliver on his promise. It wouldn't be the first time a politician broke a promise. But even if he did clean house, how much good would that do? Shuffling the cast of a play does not change the script, no more than changing the passengers on a bus changes its route. The only permanent solution to the political swamp is to reform the governing institutions, because the problem is not that bad people run the government, it is that government induces people to act badly. In other words, draining the swamp will do little if the conditions that created the swamp are not corrected. While it is clear to me that Trump is not the problem, it is unclear whether he is the solution.

Robert Hebert

economist

Baton Rouge