President-elect Donald Trump said he would remove all corrupt politicians and outside interests from Washington, D.C., during his tenure on the campaign trail with a hashtag that has become increasingly popular with his voting base: #DrainTheSwamp.
Trump supporters from across the nation have attached the phrase to varying meanings, from removing corruption and greed in local and federal government, to imposing term limits on politicians serving in Congress. The term comes from removing mosquitos carrying malaria from a region by removing the fluids from inside of a swamp, though it has more popularly been attributed to political organizers and politicians calling for an end to the status quo in government and policy.
One of the first known examples of the phrase symbolizing political change came in the early 1900s, when community organizer Mary Harris “Mother” Jones promised to “drain the swamp” of capitalists. Ronald Regan also famously used the term a year after being in office to remind the country why he felt he was elected in the first place: “I know it’s hard when you’re up to your armpits in alligators to remember you came here to drain the swamp.”
Politicians across party lines have used the phrase, which has become a popular trend for those campaigning across the country as change-making agents in Washington, including Minority House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. But the saying saw an unprecedented rise in popularity with Trump’s campaign, as the real estate magnate with no political experience became synonymous with a movement determined to end eight years of Democratic control in the White House.
“I will Make Our Government Honest Again — believe me,” Trump tweeted Oct. 17. “But first, I’m going to have to #DrainTheSwamp.”
The Trump campaign has also used the term in outreach emails to voters, as well as across social media. Whether Trump ends up sticking to this campaign promise, however, could be another story.