January 25, 2024 - 8:00pm

With Iowa and New Hampshire finished, Donald Trump’s candidacy in the general election appears inevitable, and a victory in a November showdown against Joe Biden is well within the realm of possibility. 

Trump’s first term marked a sea change for the American Right towards populist positions on trade, foreign policy and immigration. His next term promises more of the same, but in a new political environment which could allow for a more radical application of the same core principles. Record-breaking immigration has made the border wall more palatable to the American public, and the spike in violent crime that began in 2020 has stoked concerns that the criminal justice system is too soft. All of these factors could reduce friction against Trump’s agenda.

1. Immigration and the border

In 2018, Trump pledged to end birthright citizenship, a move that the Supreme Court likely would have blocked. But under the current 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court, Trump could direct federal agencies to stop granting citizenship documents to the children of illegal immigrants, as his 2024 campaign has pledged he would, and the High Court might allow the move. 

Trump’s campaign also pledged to wage war against drug cartels in his next term by deploying the military to block cartels’ use of US waterways, labelling major cartels as terrorist organisations and pursuing the death penalty for smugglers and traffickers. His plan involves working with the Department of Defense to use cyber warfare and special forces against cartels.

2. Foreign Policy

Trump’s isolationist streak, perhaps his most notable divergence from the GOP establishment, will play out in a very different geopolitical climate. He laid the groundwork for the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan during his first term, and he is now calling for “immediate deescalation and peace” in Ukraine. If elected, he plans to ask Europe to reimburse the US for stockpiles sent to Ukraine. There’s also widespread speculation that Trump will withdraw the US from NATO, an idea he reportedly considered during his first term.

3. The Deep State 

On top of reissuing a 2020 executive order allowing Trump to fire government employees, his campaign plans to monitor intelligence agencies for spying and censorship and establish a commission to declassify and publish documents on those activities, according to the campaign website. He also plans to reform FISA courts, which played a major role in federal surveillance of the Trump campaign in 2016. 

He has promised mass corruption-related firings throughout intelligence and national security agencies. His plan to purge the deep state evokes his previous calls for “retribution” against government forces he believes subverted his first presidency, though he’s recently distanced himself from calls for revenge. 

4. Trade and Economy

Trump’s economic proposal includes a four-year reshoring plan for manufacturing and supply chains and emphasises independence from China, particularly for pharmaceuticals. 

His campaign also promises to rescind Biden-era electricity regulations and increase domestic energy production by expanding drilling permits and expediting approval for natural gas pipelines. 

He plans to scrap Biden’s vehicle emissions regulations, a move he believes will help create jobs in the auto manufacturing sector.

5. Gender and identity

The former president offered a nine-step plan to “Protect Children from Left-Wing Gender Insanity”, which includes a ban on child sexual mutilation, creating a private right of action for children to sue doctors, and a DOJ investigation into pharmaceutical companies.

Trump also plans to revive a 2020 executive order banning racial and sex-based discrimination throughout the federal government.

6. Education 

Trump’s proposed war on wokeness focuses heavily on education. He hopes to establish an American Academy to compete directly with existing universities, which would offer four-year degrees free of charge, funded by taxing the endowments of private universities that have engaged in antisemitism. 

He called for new regulations on universities that would remove DEI bureaucrats and promote free speech on campus. 

In K-12 education, Trump plans to cut federal funding for schools that teach Critical Race Theory, gender ideology or inappropriate content on race, sex and politics.

7. Law and Order 

Trump’s plan to “end crime and restore law and order” includes signing legislation to massively expand police hiring, enforcing existing gun laws, reforming criminal punishment standards for minors and deporting illegal immigrants with criminal records. He has reiterated his support for stop-and-frisk.


Laurel Duggan is UnHerd’s US correspondent.