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Trump 2.0: Domestic Turmoil and Global Chaos

Brian Daitzman paints a vivid presidential portrait of America and the world in the unstable, dark grip of a second Trump term.
Published:March 7, 2024
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By Brian Daitzman

The prospect of Donald Trump’s reelection carries significant implications for the United States, affecting its internal dynamics as well as its position on the global stage. Reflecting on his first term and stated intentions, it appears that a second term could dramatically transform American society, exacerbate internal divisions, and diminish the country's international stature.

This analysis explores key areas of concern, including immigration policies, national defense, foreign relations, and a governance approach characterized by political vindictiveness, all prioritizing partisan goals over the nation's collective well-being.

A Policy of Mass Deportation

Central to Trump's domestic agenda is a focus on extensive deportations, a policy that, if fully implemented, could trigger considerable economic and social turmoil. The Center for Migration Studies' 2017 report highlights the severe economic and societal repercussions of such mass deportation policies. It forecasts a staggering loss of $5.91 trillion in GDP over ten years, adjusted for inflation from 2017 to 2024 dollars, considering a cumulative price increase of 25.82%. These measures jeopardize the economic foundation of the United States and impose profound moral and legal challenges, potentially hampering recovery efforts. The report delves deep into the socio-economic ramifications within 3.3 million mixed-status households in the U.S., which include 6.6 million U.S.-born citizens and 2.9 million undocumented residents brought to the U.S. at a young age. It underscores the significant human and economic costs involved, highlighting the potential severance of deep familial connections and the drastic drop in median household income from $41,300 to $22,000. Because of the unchanged number of undocumented immigrants between 2015 and 2021, with a slight dip in 2017, the original study's cost estimates remain pertinent and even more stark when adjusted for current dollars. The anticipated 1.4 percent reduction in GDP in the first year alone signals a significant economic downturn, amounting to a $4.7 trillion loss over ten years when adjusted for 2024 dollars, equating to approximately $5.91 trillion. This, coupled with a destabilized housing market at risk of an increase in foreclosures, challenges the viability of stringent immigration enforcement from both an economic and social standpoint, underscoring the dire consequences of such deportation policies.

War with Blue States

An article by Ronald Brownstein in The Atlantic (December 2023) titled "A War on Blue America" highlights Trump's explicit intention to intensify conflicts with Democratic-leaning states by deploying "all necessary state, local, federal, and military resources." This approach raises alarms about the potential misuse of federal authority to pursue political vendettas, thereby deepening the national divide. Trump's tenure exhibited a deliberate strategy to exacerbate tensions between the federal government and states that lean Democratic. For example, the 2017 tax reform disadvantaged blue states by limiting the federal deductibility of state and local taxes, disproportionately affecting residents of states such as New York and California.

Brownstein observes:

"Trump appeared to perceive his role not as a unifier of the country but as the advocate of a 'red nation within a nation'—the true America. In his 2024 campaign, he has even more blatantly adopted this factional stance, vowing 'retribution' for his followers and dehumanizing his adversaries. Fueled by deep-seated animosity, Trump's plans for blue cities and states threaten national unity to an extent unseen since the Civil War."

Moreover, Trump has proposed launching militarized law enforcement initiatives in Democratic cities, suggesting the deployment of federal forces, including the National Guard, in response to perceived breakdowns in public safety. He also envisioned large-scale deportation operations and suggested establishing internment camps for undocumented immigrants alongside plans to address homelessness by forcibly relocating homeless individuals.

Past as Prologue
The management of the COVID-19 crisis under Jared Kushner, as reported in Vanity Fair, starkly illustrates the Trump administration's governance philosophy, marked by a preference for market solutions over federal intervention and a political calculus that prioritized partisan advantage over national unity. Kushner's explicit declaration, "The federal government is not going to lead this response... It’s up to the states to figure out what they want to do," left states in a desperate scramble for essential supplies.

This approach not only fostered a competitive and inefficient market for personal protective equipment (PPE) but also exemplified a reluctance to employ the federal government's resources to mitigate the crisis uniformly across the United States.

Particularly telling was Kushner's response to the dire situation in New York, a state hit exceptionally hard by the pandemic. His reported criticism of Governor Andrew Cuomo's efforts to secure PPE for his state, stating, "Cuomo didn’t pound the phones hard enough to get PPE for his state…. His people are going to suffer, and that’s their problem," reveals a stark indifference to the struggles faced by Democratic-led states in obtaining critical supplies. This quote underscores a broader strategy of leveraging federal resources as tools for political retribution, thereby undermining the principles of national unity and cooperative federalism that are essential for effectively addressing public health crises.

Kushner's approach to the COVID-19 pandemic, characterized by a confrontational tone and a dismissive attitude toward using the Defense Production Act to mobilize a national response, signals a governance strategy that exacerbates divisions within the United States. It also highlights the administration's willingness to compromise public welfare for political gains, a stance that not only hindered the country's ability to respond cohesively to the pandemic but also amplified the challenges faced by states in securing life-saving equipment and supplies.

International Relations and Security
On the global stage, Trump's foreign policy approach poses significant risks to international stability and U.S. leadership. 

His readiness to allow Russia to "do whatever the hell they want" with NATO members not meeting defense spending targets represents a stark deviation from the core principles that have guided U.S. foreign policy for decades. At a rally in Conway, South Carolina, on February 10, 2024, Trump suggested that the U.S. might not defend NATO allies under attack by Russia if they fail to meet the defense spending guideline of 2% of GDP, a stance that undercuts the mutual defense clause at the heart of the NATO alliance. This departure from the commitment to collective defense not only threatens global security but also emboldens adversaries, potentially leading to increased geopolitical tensions and instability.

Trump's ambivalence toward defending Taiwan in the face of Chinese aggression further underscores the potential for a dramatic shift in U.S. foreign policy under his leadership. In an interview, Trump implied he would not necessarily order a U.S. military intervention if China were to attack Taiwan, suggesting that his personal relationships with world leaders, including Xi Jinping, would prevent such a scenario. This position raises concerns about the U.S. commitment to Taiwan's security and the broader strategic balance in the Asia-Pacific region. It suggests a willingness to forgo longstanding alliances and commitments in favor of an uncertain diplomatic approach based on personal relationships and negotiations.

Furthermore, Trump's business dealings, particularly the receipt of $5.4 million from the state-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, as reported by Forbes, highlight potential conflicts of interest that could compromise the integrity and decision-making of U.S. foreign policy. Such transactions could be perceived as influencing Trump's stance on critical geopolitical issues, including U.S.-China relations, thereby eroding global trust in American leadership and undermining the principles of transparency and accountability essential to the international order.

These foreign policy positions and business entanglements underscore a governance style that is potentially hazardous to global order and U.S. leadership. By prioritizing personal relationships over strategic alliances and showing a readiness to challenge established defense commitments, Trump's approach to international relations could destabilize existing security arrangements, weaken U.S. alliances, and shift the global balance of power in ways that are unpredictable and potentially detrimental to international peace and stability.

In Closing

Envisioning a second term for Trump paints a grim picture of intensified domestic conflict, economic distress, and international instability. The prospect demands a thorough evaluation of its potential ramifications, emphasizing the importance of leadership that fosters unity and cooperation, both domestically and internationally. While the U.S. endured Trump's initial term, the resilience shown then might be severely tested under the unchecked authority of a re-elected Trump, who might leverage the full extent of America’s national security apparatus to remain in power.


Bibliography

Alexander, Dan. "Forbes Estimates China Paid Trump At Least $5.4 Million Since He Took Office, Via Mysterious Trump Tower Lease." Forbes, October 23, 2020. https://www.forbes.com/sites/danalexander/2020/10/23/forbes-estimates-china-paid-trump-at-least-54-million-since-he-took-office-via-mysterious-trump-tower-lease/.

Brownstein, Ronald. "A WAR ON BLUE AMERICA: In a second term, Trump would punish the cities and states that don’t support him." The Atlantic, December 7, 2023. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2024/01/trump-liberal-america-reelection-law-enforcement/676136/.

Eban, Katherine. “That’s Their Problem”: How Jared Kushner Let the Markets Decide America’s COVID-19 Fate." Vanity Fair, September 20, 2020. https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/09/jared-kushner-let-the-markets-decide-covid-19-fate.

Passel, Jeffrey S., and Jens Manuel Krogstad. "What We Know About Unauthorized Immigrants Living in the U.S." Pew Research Center, November 16, 2023. https://www.pewresearch.org/short-reads/2023/11/16/what-we-know-about-unauthorized-immigrants-living-in-the-us/.

Rogan, Tom. "Trump implies he would not intervene against a Chinese invasion of Taiwan." The Washington Examiner, September 6, 2023. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/2439354/trump-implies-he-would-not-intervene-against-a-chinese-invasion-of-taiwan/.

Sullivan, Kate. "Trump says he would encourage Russia to ‘do whatever the hell they want’ to any NATO country that doesn’t pay enough." CNN, February 11, 2024. https://www.cnn.com/2024/02/10/politics/trump-russia-nato/index.html.

Warren, Robert, and Donald Kerwin. "Mass Deportations Would Impoverish US Families and Create Immense Social Costs." Center for Migration Studies, 2017. https://cmsny.org/publications/mass-deportations-impoverish-us-families-create-immense-costs/.

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