I was driving this morning behind a stainless steel, double-axeled truck down a two-lane highway in Southern Michigan, when I noticed a smear of brown sludge running down the backend of the rig. I looked at the truck a bit closer and noticed it had a dirty and discolored HAZMAT sticker. What on earth could a shiny stainless steel truck have on board that was hazardous to me or anyone else? Should I be worried about this rig losing control and wreaking havoc on us all?
The load was clearly very heavy as the truck lumbered over the road, barely reaching the posted speed limit while straining and swaying from side-to-side as if it could tip over at any time. The leaf springs arched and collapsed on each rise and rolled dramatically on every unforgiving pothole. The early morning summer sun shone in the distance as I considered my fate with each pothole.
This morning drive reminded me of my days growing up in the farm fields and woodlots of Michigan. I could not tell you how many times I wandered into filthy black muck and mosquitos in search of adventure and the answer to the timeless question of “who am I and why are we here?”
I can tell you to this day how it feels to have the swamp steal your freedom as it pulls your boots into the rotting stench and the darkness of the messy ecosystem and refuses to let go.
I can recall many times standing there frozen trying to figure out if I could keep my balance and pull hard enough on my leg to get my boot to come back with my foot. It is this paralyzed confusion that is the most unsettling. I would pull as hard as I could, struggling to get my boot and my foot free at the same time. Sometimes it would work, and sometimes I was left trying to balance like a Wolenda on a wire, hoping not to plunge further into the foul muck below after my foot rocketed solo out of the darkness. Sometimes I was able to re-insert my foot and sometimes I toppled like a sack of potatoes into the oozing and greasy filth. On a couple occasions there was nothing left of me except a dark, wet mess. I was fully engulfed in the dank, nasty, stench-encrusted-brine of Mother Earth, and I had no choice but to surrender and go home to my mother for a complete overhaul and cleaning.
Riding behind the stainless steel truck, I realized that this truck had the same dilemma. On the back was the name ‘The Honey Dipper’ and I understood immediately it was a truck with a single purpose; it sucks the foul contents out of septic tanks 12 hours a day, every day. It pulls the semi-solid liquid from everything flushed down those toilets over many years and moves to a safe place for disposal. As I re-focused on the brown ooze down the side of The Honey Dipper, I realized that you just cannot contain all of that filth. I also realized that no matter how many Honey Dipper’s were driving around, there would be no end to the depth, darkness and stench of the over-flowing septic tanks and cesspools.
Sadly that is when I realized exactly what President Donald Trump is up against. You see, he showed up with a shiny new stainless steel Honey Dipper thinking he could Drain The Swamp. Yet, no matter how many times he sucks out the waste and inhales the stench, and no matter how many times he recoils from the awful smell, he may never be able to return Washington DC to sanitary conditions.
Donald Trump had no idea how deep and dark the swamp was. Frankly, most of us had no idea how bad it really was or is. In fact, I would suggest it is far more treacherous than anyone could have imagined. All that money and all that power residing in a single place could only produce absolute filth from decades of centralized and accumulated power.
President Trump is learning, just as I did, how to balance on one foot while trying to regain your balance and save your boot. Draining the swamp is hazardous, as it is deep with potholes, stench and waste. The Honey Dipper is siphoning but the swamp keeps pulling at him, knocking him off balance. The DC swamp resists and time will tell if Donald can pull us out of the muck.