Decoding Trump’s Policies

Terry Schwadron
5 min readMay 25


Terry H. Schwadron

May 24, 2023

Since Donald Trump doesn’t really want to campaign on what exactly he would seek to do as president, the website took a shot this week at compiling its digest of Trump positions that emerge from statements, postings, videos, and the few interviews that go beyond his usual recitation of Trump as victim.

What rises is an autocratic vision of “a plan that would give him, as president, more control of virtually every facet of life in America,” concludes the Axiom analysis. Still, they note, most of the Trump message is self-promoting egotism and disdain for American institutions, democratic traditions and rules, legal or otherwise.

Admittedly, for a host of reasons, Trump has no chance of getting my vote, but I remain interested in whether anything he seeks surpasses his very dark and debasing world that embraces his style more than any cogent statement of community-held values. As we have witnessed, Trump is the ultimate transactional politician, advancing even mean-spirited, vindictive government policy so long as it advances his personal agenda — and not a political thinker about what government should be doing in terms of policies.

As we see the entry of would-be Trump competitors for the Republican nomination this week, the agenda items that make up a near-platform serve as markers for which Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, former Governors Nikki Haley, Asa Hutchinson, or the few others who have put their hands up will have to respond by out-Trumping Trump. After all, almost beyond belief, a rising tide of legal challenges, including multiple pending criminal charges, seem not to dissuade Trump or his solid fans from wanting another Trump presidential campaign — and, despite legal challenges, Trump is leading by far.

Unless Trump is derailed by the political fallout of his legal difficulties, It seems necessary to ask what he intends, other than a wide swath of personal vindictiveness and political revenge.

A Wide Swath of Power

From its own coverage and that of others, Axiom says that Trump’s second-term governing plans outline a vision for a dramatic expansion of federal power — particularly the presidency.

He sees himself overruling the Justice Department about whether justice demanded punishment for hundreds of people convicted because of Jan. 6, 2021, using pardon powers, for example, and immediately and unilaterally settling the war in Ukraine, apparently using the same magical powers by which he declassifies U.S. intelligence documents.

Those promises may not even wink at issues of justice or legality, but we have already heard them way too often as a reason for Trump’s candidacy.

But the compilation of what Trump says shows that he wants to control who and what is taught at our schools, colleges and universities, set partisan political loyalties that can be imposed to be able to work by giving the president the authority to hire and fire federal workers at will, to eliminate federal health payments to institutions that support gender identity treatment and re-impose his most drastic anti-immigration policies. Trump wants to fire “radical left” officials who accredit universities, reward schools that abolish tenure for teachers, eliminate many college administrators and remove diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, says Axios.

He wants to control what local district attorneys can do, vowing to get rid of “Marxist prosecutors” and decide from Washington who should serve in those positions, based on their record of bringing what Trump thinks are politically sensitive cases. He wants to unleash the U.S. military on international cartels that he associates with drug and people smuggling, and on street crime in Chicago. As he has told us, he wants to undercut the commitments of international treaties, doing so on the fly, at his personal whim, and when he feels he can strike better bilateral agreements. He wants to re-embrace Russia — and this week, Vladimir Putin made clear by sanctioning 500 anti-Trump Americans that he wants to re-embrace Trump.

Because he won’t speak substantively about any of these ideas, we have no idea how he might marry his dangerous statements about falling off the debt crisis cliff with new incentives to build vast border walls or to offer a “quantum leap to revolutionize the American standard of living” includes baby bonuses to create a new baby boom and the design of 10 new “Freedom Cities” in the U.S.

Reshaping Government in his Image

Trump does want his brand of politics “to reshape the Justice Department and U.S. intelligence,” in part to “to ensure they are not spying on our citizens.”

He wants less prosecutorial interference in, say, voting and official malfeasance, and more aimed at determining whether Big Pharma and hospitals have “deliberately covered up the long-term side-effects of ‘sex transitions.’” He also wants to boot hospitals or providers from Medicaid and Medicare if they offer gender-affirming care.

He wants to stop interfering with local governments over restrictive housing policies, gun limitations, but more on “mental health” without specifying what he is talking about. As we know, Trump wants credit for naming three anti-abortion Supreme Court judges but does not want to talk about the effects spiraling out of control in the aftermath.

Overall, he always has wanted to stop regulation — unless it works for his personal or partisan advancement. That same Supreme Court majority he built also is fixated on trimming the already wide powers of the presidency and his agencies.

And so, as we start to hear from the mini-Trump rivals, they find themselves either trying to sound more right-leaning than Trump or unable to speak about much altogether that distinguishes them from him. Personal character is the obvious target but something they see as a hot, fatal third rail among primary voters.

Climate doesn’t exist as an issue, nor does inflation and tax and wage inequalities, nor access to health care nor rising white supremacy and the undercutting of truth and democracy. The focus is local and on misgivings and distrust, on allowing for a strain of anti-Americanism in the world in the name of patriotism and inflated voting numbers.

I’ll give credit to Axios for performing a service here in bringing all the threads together in what amounts to a list of non-criminal system reasons to be quite nervous about the policies that another Trump presidency — a list that even his rivals seem largely to embrace.




Terry Schwadron

Journalist, musician, community volunteer