Trump 2.0

In this third and final part of the series we look at the challenges Trump faces to become US president again, the response of the Republican party and what we can expect in terms of policy if Trump does indeed become US president again
2nd July 202416 min

In part 1 of this three part series we looked at how Donald Trump was able to win the Republican primaries. In part 2 we looked at how Trump defeated Hilary Clinton despite opposition from Republican stalwarts. In this third and final part of the series we look at the challenges Trump faces to become US president again, the response of the Republican party and what we can expect in terms of policy if Trump does indeed become US president again.

Trump never acknowledged defeat in the 2020 elections. Instead, he claimed cheating had occurred.[1] On the 6th January, 2021 this led to pro-Trump protestors storming the United States Capitol building, where at that time the members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives had gathered to formally appoint Joe Biden as the next president of the United States. This extraordinary event, which infuriated many Americans, forced Trump to finally concede and release a statement that he would be handing over power to the new Biden administration on the 7th of January.

When during November of 2022 Trump announced that he would again run for president in the 2024 presidential elections[2], it became clear he still caused strong concern among the factions of the United States establishment that collaborated against him during the 2020 presidential elections. Shortly before the announcement, Trump was brought to court by the State of New York on the accusation that he had committed fraud in his business dealings. Shortly after the announcement, in March 2023, Trump was brought to court by the District of Manhattan on the charge that he had falsified business records, to hide from the American public the fact that he had paid “hush money” to a prostitute in the runup to the 2016 presidential election. In June 2023 Trump was then also charged with stealing confidential documents during his time as president. In August of the same year a district in the State of Georgia brought Trump to court over an accusation of “election subversion”, or conspiring with others in order to steal the 2020 election. In the same month Trump was also called to court in Washington DC over a similar accusation. Last but not least, a number of judges and professors of law developed a legal argument in an attempt to make it illegal for Trump to run for president again. In their view, the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution, which disqualifies anyone who took an oath defending the Constitution and then subsequently participated in a rebellion or an insurrection, is applicable to Trump because of the events of the 6th of January, 2020. In response to this legal reasoning, in more than 30 American states cases were filed to keep Trump out of the 2024 presidential elections. Three states, Maine, Colorado, and Illinois, eventually issued rulings to disqualify Trump, but in the end the United States Supreme Court decided against this and allowed Trump to run as a candidate.

While these court cases have not succeeded in barring Trump from running in the elections, they have kept him very busy, given his opponents an opportunity to attack his personality, and cost him a lot of money.[3] 

But even inside the Republican Party there were debates as to whether or not Trump should be allowed to run for president as a Republican candidate.[4] For example, in the aftermath of the events of the 6th of  January, 2021, ten Republicans members of the United States Congress called for then-still president Trump to be removed from office with immediate effect. Some of these Republicans, most notably Liz Cheney, have continued to actively campaign against Trump.[5] By and large, however, these efforts have failed, and the Republican Party has now united behind Donald Trump. The main reason for this is not Trump’s policy proposals, but rather, as Liz Cheney confirmed, it is Trump’s popularity among the electorate. This popularity remains so high that Republican politicians fear to speak out publicly against Trump, even if they disagree with him. Instead, they try to ally with him in order to personally benefit from his popularity.[6]

Trump’s popularity among the electorate…. remains so high that Republican politicians fear to speak out publicly against Trump, even if they disagree with him. Instead, they try to ally with him in order to personally benefit from his popularity

Trump’s “electoral strength” is one of the things that enabled him to increase his influence in the official institutions of the Republican Party. He pressured the chairperson of the Republican National Convention (RNC), Ronna McDaniel, to resign, which she then did after meeting Trump in February 2024.[7] The RNC is one of the key official Republican Party institutions. It is responsible for developing and promoting the Republican brand and political platform, as well as for leading fundraising and election strategy. With McDaniel out of the way at the RNC, Trump then publicly supported Michael Whatley to take her place. At the same time, Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump joined the RNC election for the co-chair position. Both Whatley and Lara Trump won the election due to Trump’s support, and they became the official leadership of the RNC in March 2024. Among their first acts was the appointment of the manager of Trump’s 2024 election campaign, Chris LaCivita, as the RNC’s chief operating officer. This ensured that anything the RNC now does, supports Trump’s attempt to be re-elected as president in 2024.[8] Any employees of the RNC who disagreed with this, were unceremoniously fired by LaCivita.[9]

Donald Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party has been further enabled by a number of Republican “megadonors”[10] who see a second Trump presidency as an opportunity to get their preferred policies preserved or implemented.[11] This explains the significant support Trump is now receiving from think tanks in the United States, in particular The Heritage Foundation. The Heritage Foundation is a conservative think tank which previously supported the administration of Ronald Reagan (1981 – 1989) to determine policy. Now, the Heritage Foundation has led an effort to create a “platform” for the Trump campaign. It’s 2025 Presidential Transition Project is designed to establish for the Trump campaign team a specific policy agenda, a list of personnel whom Trump could employ in his administration if elected as president, and a “180-day playbook” to manage the transition period after his appointment as president.[12]

The key policy proposals were documented in a publication from April 2023, entitled “Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise”.[13] At the core of the policy proposals included in this document is something called “the unitary view of executive power”. In essence, it proposes that the United States president is given more power, at the expense of government institutions. In this way, the United States president would be enabled to determine public policy. The role of the government institutions would then be limited to executing these policies which are presidentially decreed, and they would no longer be an active member in the deliberations that lead to the formulation of the policies as is presently the case. 

Donald Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party has been further enabled by a number of Republican “megadonors,” who see a second Trump presidency as an opportunity to get their preferred policies preserved or implemented

As to the policy recommendations of the “Mandate for Leadership”[14], it proposes that the United States end its support for the global climate change agenda and refocus its energy policy back on domestically produced fossil fuels. As a consequence, it proposes that the United States (again) withdraws from the Paris Climate Accord; ends all types of government support for green energy solutions, including electric cars; and instead supports coal, oil and gas companies to increase fossil fuel production inside the country. In the international domain the Mandate proposes that the United States works to restore its position of hegemonic power in the world via a focus on military strength. It identifies China as “the United States’ most important enemy”, and the Department of Defense is to be given significantly more resources to dominate it. These additional resources should be invested in additional soldiers, and in the development of new nuclear weapons and other forms of nuclear technology. This aggressive, militaristic approach to international relations is to be supported by the United States diplomatic corps. The Mandate proposes that it adopts a more aggressive stance towards both American allies and enemies. Allies are to be put under pressure to become stronger and more active supporters of the policies of the United States, while enemies are to be threatened with regime change to make them fall in line. The United States’ support for international institutions such as the World Bank (WB), International Monetary Fund (IMF), and even the United Nations (UN), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is to be scaled back or even ended if these institutions do not unquestioningly side with the United States. In an interview with the New York Times the president of the Heritage Foundation explained that it is also against the European Union, and more generally against the
“European Project” that is targeting far-reaching collaboration between the European nations. Instead of the United States collaboration with regional coordinating or collaborating bodies such as the EU and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Heritage Foundation proposes one-on-one, bilateral collaborations between the United States and other nations.[15] In the economic realm, all relations with China are to be ended, says the Mandate. Domestically, taxes are to be lowered and markets are to be deregulated further. The Mandate also proposes to end the Federal Reserve and establish a system of “free banking”. Lastly, as far as social policy is concerned, the Mandate proposes a “Christian values” based approach, focusing on support for “the traditional family” and ending government policies that target “diversity” and “LBGTQ” promotion.[16]

As to the “180-day playbook”, it proposes that Trump fires thousands of civil servants upon his appointment as president, and replaces them with “conservatives” who support the policy proposals set out by Project 2025.[17] After this “shock therapy”, Project 2025 proposes that an even larger number of positions inside the United States government institutions are to become political appointments, meaning that the president and his staff determine who holds the position. This is to ensure the government institutions remain unquestioning executors of presidential policy decisions. These proposals are to avoid a repeat of Trump’s experiences during his first tenure as president, when government institutions conspired to prevent him from having a real impact on policy and decision-making.[18]

Today, Donald Trump’s appeal to voters is as strong as ever – if not stronger.[19] The main reason is the fact that the economic frustrations of a large section of the voting public in the United States, which Trump appealed to in 2015, remain. President Biden very explicitly positioned his policies as an attempt to address these frustrations, but they have had little to no real impact. Biden’s “Build Back Better” policy framework was presented as designed to rebuild America’s middle class[20], but only a small minority of American middle-class families actually believes this has been achieved. Only 16 percent say Biden’s policies have benefitted them a lot, 33 percent say they have benefitted them a little, 45 percent say they have not benefited them at all, and 7 percent aren’t sure.[21] This impression that “Bidenomics” has not helped America’s middle class results from the fact that over the past 4 years inflation in the United States has been significantly higher than usual, which has made the essentials of life – food, energy – significantly more expensive.[22] In response to this inflation, the United States central bank, the Federal Reserve, has increased interest rates, which has led to higher costs for housing, transport and education. The resulting financial challenges faced by many middle class families has maintained or even strengthened the appeal of Trump’s image as a “political outsider who will do things really differently”.

While Trump correctly identified these economic frustrations, and used them to his personal advantage, he himself does not have a real vision or practical plan to resolve them. Consequently, during his first presidency it was possible for the United States’ establishment to “manage” him and to prevent him from having any real impact on domestic and international policy.

Still, the United States’ establishment considered president Trump a nuisance, as they considered him dangerously incompetent. For this reason, this establishment has worked to prevent a return of Trump to the presidency in 2025. This is the real reason why Trump has had to deal with a variety of court cases since leaving the presidential office early 2020. The evidence for this assertion is that while Trump was taken to court for taking confidential government documents with him to his private home, current United States president Biden was not similarly charged for committing the exact same offense.[23]

However, since Trump left the presidential office, elements of the United States establishment have come to see him as a “potentially useful tool” for preserving or implementing their preferred policies. This explains the support Trump’s presidential campaign has received from the prominent thinktank the Heritage Foundation.

But, the policies proposed by the Heritage Foundation do not address the economic frustrations of America’s middle class that supports Trump either. Fundamentally, the economic policy vision proposed by the Heritage Foundation is a continuation of the neoliberal agenda that has caused the worsening of income inequality in the United States (and globally) since the 1970s that underpins these frustrations.[24] The current United States’ billionaire class support for a second Trump presidency is exactly because they believe they can again “manage” him to implement lower taxes and market deregulations that “support business”.[25]

As far as international policy is concerned, the policy proposals of the Heritage Foundation are eerily similar to the proposals of the “Project for A New American Century (PNAC)” that guided the presidency of George W. Bush (2001 – 2009).[26] PNAC also proposed a “military first” vision for the United States, based on the belief that the United States could best secure its interests by dominating the rest of the world militarily. The results of this policy are well known. The United States ended up entering wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that almost bankrupted it, while the neglect of diplomacy in its War on Terror caused it to lose significantly in the area of “soft power” – a geopolitical blunder that George W. Bush’s successor as president, Barack Obama, tried desperately to correct.[27]

As far as international policy is concerned, the policy proposals of the Heritage Foundation are eerily similar to the proposals of the “Project for A New American Century (PNAC)” that guided the presidency of George W. Bush.

All this indicates that a new Trump presidency is most likely to further worsen the polarisation of American society, weaken the United States’ influence internationally, and lead to heightened geopolitical instability. Polarisation will worsen because Trump himself antagonises a large section of the American public, while his policies will not resolve the frustrations being felt by the section of the American public that supports him. The United States’ influence internationally will weaken for a variety of reasons. One is that increased domestic polarisation weakens the United States. Another is that neoliberal economic policies not only worsen polarisation, but also weaken the United States’ manufacturing base, which has been identified as a major risk to technological innovation and geostrategic strength.[28] Lastly, geopolitical instability will be heightened as it always is when a leading nation adopts a militarism. A nation that thinks it can secure its interests via war will turn to war whenever it faces an opportunity or challenge in the international arena.


Part 1 – The Trump Phenomenon

Part 2 – The Impossible President

Part 3 – Trump 2.0



[1] A timeline of Donald Trump’s election denial claims, which Republican politicians increasingly embrace – ABC News (

[2] Donald Trump announces a White House bid for 2024 | CNN Politics

[3] The Cases Against Trump: A Guide – The Atlantic

[4] Republicans React to Trump’s 2024 White House Bid | TIME

[5] Opinion | Liz Cheney plans to make a difference in the 2024 election – The Washington Post

[6] Trump’s Dominance in the GOP Isn’t What It Seems – POLITICO

[7] The fall of Ronna McDaniel – POLITICO

[8] RNC votes to install Trump’s handpicked chair, Michael Whatley | AP News

[9] RNC fires dozens of staff days after Trump’s team takeover, AP sources say | AP News

[10] US election 2024: Who are the mega-rich donors backing Trump? | Reuters and also 18 of Trump’s Most Wealthy Backers – Business Insider

[11] Many GOP billionaires balked at Jan. 6. They’re coming back to Trump. – The Washington Post

[12] Project 2025 | Presidential Transition Project

[13] 2025_MandateForLeadership_FULL.pdf (

[14] Friday essay: Project 2025, the policy substance behind Trump’s showmanship, reveals a radical plan to reshape the world (

[15] Conservative groups draw up plan to dismantle the US government and replace it with Trump’s vision | AP News

[16] US hard-right policy group condemned for ‘dehumanising’ anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric | The far right | The Guardian

[17] Conservative groups draw up plan to dismantle the US government and replace it with Trump’s vision | AP News

[18] See section “The Presidency”

[19] Donald Trump : Favorability Polls | FiveThirtyEight


[21] Few in new poll say Biden policies helping middle class (

[22] Bidenomics doesn’t tell full story of hardships facing middle class (

[23] Biden will not face charges over classified papers, says ‘memory is fine’ | Reuters

[24] Neoliberalism: the idea that swallowed the world | Economic policy | The Guardian

[25] Trump’s Brazen Pact with the 0.001 Per Cent | The New Yorker

[26] Project for the New American Century – Wikipedia

[27] From Crusader to Exemplar: Bush, Obama and the Reinvigoration of America’s Soft Power (

[28] U.S. Manufacturing Ecosystem Key to Economic Growth, Innovation, Competitiveness > U.S. Department of Defense > Defense Department News

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