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'Drain the Swamp' Has Gone Global

It all started with then-presidential candidate Donald Trump promising that, if elected, he would “drain the swamp” in Washington. The phrase, as well as the sentiment, has been more popular than it has been successful. Even so, “drain the swamp” has become a global movement, as people in countries around the world march, protest and in some cases riot, demanding an end to political corruption, kleptocracy and punitive taxes and fees.
The current media focus is on protests in Iraq, Lebanon, Hong Kong and Chile. All of these revolts have experienced some success, although not enough to placate the protesters.
The prime ministers of Iraq and Lebanon resigned in response to the uprisings. And while Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam hasn’t resigned, she did finally withdraw a provision that would have allowed mainland China to extradite certain people accused of committing crimes.
Embattled Chilean President Sebastián Piñera is also still in power, but he has replaced several ministers and announced a number of reforms.
These uprisings are reminiscent of the “yellow vest” movement that began in France about a year ago, in part in response to a new tax on gasoline. While the protesters demanded a number of things, including the resignation of French President Emmanuel Macron (which they didn’t get), Macron made several changes, including canceling the gasoline tax.
France’s yellow vest movement spread to other countries, including Belgium, though generally with much less impact than in France.
Other recent protest movements have taken place in Spain, Egypt, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Haiti, Sudan, Romania and Serbia.
In many cases the protesters are targeting authoritarian governments and strongman leaders who don’t typically give up power willingly—or easily. Just look at Venezuela and Syria.
These drain-the-swamp movements may not self-identify as conservative—indeed, they are often referred to as populist movements—but ending corruption and cronyism, limiting the power of government, and allowing more individual freedom are conservative goals.
The irony is that even as protesters decry government corruption and demand reform, they are often open to different leftist leaders and policies that only perpetuate the problems these countries already face. 
In other words, many protest movements seem willing to embrace big government to save them from … big government.
If participants in these protest movements don’t believe their government can be trusted to operate efficiently, fairly and without rampant corruption, the solution is smaller government with limited powers and lower taxes—for everyone.