Draining the swamp? Not so much.

If there was one thing that a sharply divided electorate agreed on in 2016, says Diane Hessan, it was on the need to “drain the swamp.” The corrupted stew of lobbyists, corporate influence-peddling, and the nearly unlimited role of money in campaigns is something Americans almost universally revile. That made it brilliant politics for Donald Trump to declare that swamp clearing would be the first order of business if voters sent him Washington.

Hessan, an entrepreneur and author, has been writing a weekly column for the Boston Globe since the month after the election based on conversations with a cross-section of 400 voters. The pieces have offered an illuminating window into how voters of all persuasions are reacting to the Trump presidency.

So how is that swamp-clearing effort going a year after the country installed in the White House the guy who declared in his Republican nomination acceptance speech that he alone was the one who could fix what ailed America? When it comes to the nearly universal revulsion at the dominance of special interests and big money in Washington, Hessan’s pool of Americans seems to be in bipartisan agreement that Trump has done nothing to change that equation.

A Californian named Jose says, “on a scale of 1 to 10, I give him a 2 for draining the swamp” — and he calls himself a Trump supporter. Joseph, an Arizona Republican, says he’s glad to have more in his paycheck from the recent tax cut, “but the people who are really benefiting are the rich people.”

Not surprisingly, Democratic voters were no less harsh in their assessments. Nothing seems to highlight better how absurd Trump’s vow looks than his cabinet appointments —  “a bunch of Goldman Sachs executives and other rich people who are adding to the goo,” as one Democrat from Iowa puts it to Hessan.

And on it goes. No one even mentioned an EPA administrator who seems to take marching orders from the industries he is supposed to police, or the recently broomed director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention whose investment portfolio included tobacco company stock.

The idea that the blustery billionaire — famous for shaky business deals and with no history of ever pushing for systemic good-government reform — would suddenly be carrying the Common Cause agenda seemed laughable to many. Which is where showman P.T. Barnum’s best known line may offer the only sensible explanation.

Trump’s swamp draining may be fake news, but Hessan says “hunger for brave and unsullied candidates with both the guts and the intelligence to change the system has not died.” That continued public appetite, she says, means there is opportunity for new leaders who might actually make good on the wish for real change.

It would be nice to think she’s right. It’s more realistic to understand that, in a battle of white knight savior vs. swamp, the money is always on the swamp.



The Massachusetts Senate removes the “acting” from the title Senate President Harriette Chandler, designating her as president for the rest of this year. (CommonWealth) A Herald editorial calls it a good move.


Fall River’s corporation counsel is seeking a court order to seal emails and texts between Mayor Jasiel Correia and the city administrator sought by the Herald News that were filed in a suit against the private Fall River Office of Economic Development.


Rob Porter, President Trump’s staff secretary, resigns after his ex-wives claim he was physically and emotionally abusive during their marriages. (Washington Post)

Senate negotiators reached a bipartisan agreement on a two-year budget deal that increases military and domestic spending while avoiding a government shutdown despite threats from Trump. But House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who commandeered the chamber’s floor for a historic eight-hour speech, says without a promise to debate immigration, she won’t support the deal. (New York Times)

Would a huge military parade in Washington be a show of force or a farce? (Boston Herald) A Herald editorial suggests the latter, and says the Trump administration has become one of “bread and circuses.”

A New York state law set to go into effect in April requiring infrastructure projects to use only US-made iron and steel is causing increased trade tensions with Canada and could be a harbinger of bigger problems with America’s largest foreign market as President Trump implements his “America First” agenda. (U.S. News & World Report)

Bermuda repeals gay marriage. (The Guardian)


Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch, a devout Catholic and longtime Democrat, has left the party and changed his affiliation to unenrolled because of its staunch pro-choice platform. (Patriot Ledger)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren isn’t taking sides, at least yet, in the brewing Democratic primary battle between Rep. Michael Capuano and Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley. (Dorchester Reporter)


Redevelopment permits for the former Suffolks Downs site in East Boston are getting fast-tracked by state and city officials. (Boston Globe)

Contract baggage handlers and other workers at JetBlue hit the picket lines at Logan Airport. (Boston Globe)

A newly formed feminist group at Stoughton High School made up of students and faculty advisors apologized to the Marylou’s coffee chain after sending a caustic letter to the company questioning its hiring practices that the group says promotes a “busty and blonde” stereotype. (The Enterprise)

Yahoo is appealing to the US Supreme Court an October Supreme Judicial Court ruling that heirs are entitled to gain access to the email accounts of departed loved ones. Yahoo attorneys say “the dead have ongoing privacy rights,” writes Herald legal reporter Bob McGovern.

The GOP tax cut could wreak havoc with universities that have big-money athletic programs because the new law eliminates the tax deduction boosters received for purchasing tickets. (MarketWatch)


Former Boston Fed chair Cathy Minehan and Vanessa Calderon-Rosado, a former state education board member, say last week’s board recommendation of Jeff Riley as state education commissioner reflects a disturbing pattern in Massachusetts higher education — and beyond — in which insider male candidates are getting the nod for top posts. (Boston Globe)

Shannon Daniels, who was known as Tom until Tuesday, explains her decision to identify as female.The principal of a Swampscott elementary school said she plans to remain with her wife of 29 years and start dressing more like a woman. (Eagle-Tribune)

Well-known Northeastern University economist Barry Bluestone is facing blowback from the school after a saying of President Trump in a recent lecture, “I wouldn’t mind seeing him dead.” (Boston Globe)

Boston school superintendent Tommy Chang proposes a $1.1 billion budget for the coming year, a 4.4 percent boost in spending. (Boston Herald)


Former GE honcho Jeff Immelt was named chairman of Watertown-based aethenahealth, which develops health records software. (Boston Globe)


James Aloisi says the Trump and Baker budgets are disappointing for transportation. He notes that Baker’s budget level-funds regional transit authorities, which amounts to a “shameful” spending cut. (CommonWealth)

A new stop under construction on the Fairmount Line spurs development of an old, abandoned car dealership nearby and raises hopes that a turnaround in Mattapan is underway. (WBUR)

Another “trespasser” is killed by a commuter rail train in Gloucester. (Gloucester Times)


A group of eight Massachusetts business groups form the Mass Coalition for Sustainable Energy, which will lobby for more natural gas pipeline capacity. (CommonWealth)

Emily Norton of the Sierra Club sees a silver lining in the collapse of Northern Pass. (CommonWealth)

About 200 people showed up in Westborough to comment on new regulations requiring dog owners to keep their dogs on a leash and pick up after them on 240,000 acres owned by the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. (Telegram & Gazette)


Steve Wynn may have resigned from Wynn Resorts, but the Massachusetts Commission said its investigation still has a long way to go. (CommonWealth) Chip Tuttle, a Suffolk Downs executive who lost his battle with Wynn Resorts for the Boston casino license, said Wynn’s resignation doesn’t make the company named after him suitable to continue holding the license. (CommonWealth) Shareholders of Wynn Resorts sue the board of directors, claiming a board representative was told of Steve Wynn’s alleged misconduct in 2009 and did not investigate. (Reuters)

The Mashpee Wampanoag expect a decision “any day now” from the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs over whether their land in Taunton can remain in trust and allow the tribe move forward with building its First Light casino. (Cape Cod Times)


The ACLU of Massachusetts is working to increase public awareness of the importance of who holds district attorneys offices in the state, elected posts that are often overlooked by voters but which wield huge power over how justice is dispensed. (Boston Globe)