Trump’s second act
The president’s reelection campaign crystalizes its main talking points
For the first time since 1856, the Republican Party chose not to announce a new platform ahead of a presidential election. The decision to keep the 2016 one signals the Trump campaign’s solidified control over the party’s direction.
Over the weekend, the campaign published a list that outlines President Donald Trump’s intended second-term agenda, starting with reviving the once-thriving economy. The list largely is in line with the president’s goals the first time around. But this time, it has his first-term track record behind it.
“Trump actually seems to take those commitments seriously, and he likes to say, ‘I did what I said I was going to do,’” Wilfred McClay, the Blankenship chair in the history of liberty at the University of Oklahoma, pointed out.
Perhaps most notable, however, are the issues the list does not include.
“The statement says nothing about issues that are of great importance to many conservatives such as abortion, LGBTQ issues, religious freedom, gun rights, and judicial appointments,” noted Amy Black, a political science professor at Wheaton College.
Many supporters see judicial picks as Trump’s most lasting first-term accomplishment. He has appointed one-fourth of all active federal judges and the most appeals court judges at this point of a presidency since Jimmy Carter.
“Talking abt the Supreme Court got Pres Trump elected & it needs 2b center stage again this election,” tweeted Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee from 2015 to 2019.
Thomas Farr, president of the Religious Freedom Institute, said the list should have reiterated a firm commitment to religious freedom since people of faith are “under outright assault around the world.”
McClay agreed, given the issue’s prominent role in the president’s first term: “[Trump], who is nobody’s idea of an exemplary Christian gentleman, has turned out to be such a fierce defender of religious liberty and the increasingly marginalized sense that many Christians have in this culture. So I’m surprised they didn’t capitalize on this.”
But McClay said he doubts many outside-the-Beltway voters will pay much attention to the platform. He noted that those who do take notice won’t be able to write off the president’s commitments the way some did in 2016: “No one can doubt he really means it and that he’s really willing to put on the pressure.”
There are a few surprises on Trump’s list. Some of the policies are pie-in-the-sky aspirations, such as passing congressional term limits. It included a goal to “partner with other nations to clean up our planet’s oceans.” Other items are new but very much in line with the president’s previous priorities, like launching the Space Force.
But tackling the economic issues wrought by the coronavirus pandemic and its associated lockdowns tops the list. Trump said he wants to create 10 million jobs in 10 months, cut taxes, and expand opportunity zones. The campaign pledges to take on COVID-19 and “return to normal in 2021.”
The president’s list also focuses on strategies to counter the Chinese government, such as moving manufacturing jobs back to the United States. Under healthcare, the campaign pledges to cover all preexisting conditions, though it has dropped any mention of repealing or replacing the Affordable Care Act.
Other priorities include ending illegal immigration, supporting the police, and bringing American troops back home.
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