Ecologist Upset with ‘Drain the Swamp’ Says It’s Unfair to Real Swamps

Drain the Swamp Evan VucciAP
Evan Vucci/AP

Calling recent political discourse in the U.S. “lacking in civility,” a Washington bureaucrat is insisting that we stop using the phrase “drain the swamp” to describe change in Washington because, apparently, it is an insult to real swamps everywhere.

Adam Rosenblatt, a science and technology policy fellow at the American Association for the Advancement of Science based at the Department of Energy in Washington, D.C., recently noted in a Washington Post op-ed that using the term “drain the swamp” is a “terrible analogy.”

Rosenblatt, an ecologist by training, has decided to take the term literally, instead of metaphorically as it is intended, and is now warning about the dangers of draining real — not just political — swamps. It is, he says, very bad for the ecosystem.

In his December 29 piece, the Washington bureaucrat was dismissive of Donald Trump’s use of the metaphor as a slogan to promulgate his desire to eliminate waste and abuse in Washington, and even erroneously said that Newt Gingrich has “disavowed” the phrase. Gingrich recently admitted he was mistaken when he said the incoming Trump administration did not want to use the phrase anymore.

But Rosenblatt went on to insist that using the political catchphrase might make people dismissive of the importance of real-life swamps and might tend to make people less mindful of how important swamps are to our ecosystem.

“My extensive experience working in and studying swamps allows me to see just how terrible the analogy is,” Rosenblatt insisted. “Given the sea of misinformation we currently find ourselves swimming in, I feel this is as good a time as any to clarify what swamps actually are and why they should be regarded as wonderful and valuable parts of nature rather than objects of derision and hatred.”

Rosenblatt went on to describe the good things real wetlands do for the ecology and detailed the damage done by past efforts to actually drain real swamps.

“It is clear, then, that swamps do not deserve their reputation as useless ecosystems, nor do they deserve to be co-opted as a lazy, inept political metaphor,” Rosenblatt complained.

“The next time you hear a politician or pundit talk about ‘draining the swamp,’ remember that swamps can be sources of resource abundance and protection from natural disasters, which are exactly some of the functions a responsible government should promote,” the ecologist and Washington bureaucrat sonorously warned.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at


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