The truth about Trump? He’s a moderate

The Democratic scare-mongering over his ‘far right’ platform is just not going to cut it with voters.

Batya Ungar-Sargon

Topics Politics USA

Want to read spiked ad-free? Become a spiked supporter.

If you get your news from the liberal media, you probably think former US president Donald Trump is a far-right extremist. He is, supposedly, someone who plans to be a dictator, who will jail journalists. He’s a ‘Hitler in the White House’, per some media personalities. ‘Democracy and freedom are on the ballot’, we’re told every single day in the run-up to this year’s election.

And yet, the truth is almost the opposite, at least if you look at policy. Far from being far right or extremist, Trump’s policy agenda is extremely moderate. Much of it wouldn’t be foreign to a Nineties-era Democrat. He believes abortion should be legal up to 15 weeks. He supports gay marriage. He’s courting labour unions. He believes immigration drives down working-class wages. He’s pursuing the black vote. He wants trade with China to favour the American worker – not the Chinese elites – and has proposed a 10 per cent blanket tariff on all foreign imports.

Indeed, it’s not despite Trump’s moderate agenda that his adversaries have sought to paint him in extremist terms. It’s because he has effectively co-opted some of the Democrats’ long-abandoned pro-worker policies. Nothing has made this clearer than the recent dust-up over ‘Project 2025’.

The Project 2025 Presidential Transition Project is a policy agenda and personnel database organised by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank. Its aim is to ‘rescue the country from the grip of the radical left’. It plans to do so by privatising public services, as well as making cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and social security. It also recommends the Food and Drug Administration reverse its approval of the abortion pill, mifepristone, and that ‘the next conservative administration’ should create a ‘pro-life task force to ensure that all of the department’s divisions seek to use their authority to promote the life and health of women and their unborn children’. It also uses language that opposes gay marriage, insisting that ‘married men and women are the ideal, natural family structure because all children have a right to be raised by the men and women who conceived them’.

The liberal media immediately tried to pin Project 2025 on Trump, breathlessly hailing it as his blueprint for a second term. Unfortunately for them, Trump promptly disavowed the project. ‘I know nothing about Project 2025’, he wrote on his social-media site, Truth Social, last week. ‘I have no idea who is behind it’, he added. ‘I disagree with some of the things they’re saying and some of the things they’re saying are absolutely ridiculous and abysmal. Anything they do, I wish them luck, but I have nothing to do with them.’ Oof.

Naturally, the media called Trump a liar. But any honest doubts about the gap between Trump’s actual agenda and Project 2025 should be summarily put to rest by the Republican National Committee’s 2024 GOP platform, which was released earlier this week. The new GOP agenda reflects the total capture of the Republican Party by Trump’s own version of things – not the far-right version of the media’s fantasy, but what Trump actually thinks and is proposing.

Let’s start with what the platform doesn’t include. There is no mention of a national abortion ban, marking the first time in 40 years that the GOP’s agenda doesn’t call for one. Instead, it favours granting the decision over abortion to individual states, which reflects Trump’s own preference. This is an astonishing development. It is basically the equivalent of the Democrats leaving fighting climate change off their own platform. Unsurprisingly, the omission has mortified those on the right who seek a national abortion ban. Former vice-president Mike Pence called it ‘a profound disappointment’. The platform similarly omits the traditional (and Project 2025-endorsed) definition of marriage as between ‘one man and one woman’.

In moderating on abortion and gay marriage, the GOP platform – like Trump himself – has abandoned the goals of the right-wing think-tanks. Instead, it is adopting a socially moderate position that reflects where the majority of Americans find themselves – against banning abortion and in favour of gay marriage.

The rest of the platform follows suit, calling for things like ‘sealing the border, and stopping the migrant invasion’ – language that sounded a lot more abrasive before President Biden effectively decriminalised illegal border crossing and American cities became overrun with millions of illegal migrants. It promises to ‘carry out the largest deportation operation in American history’, a view similarly endorsed by the majority of Americans.

On the whole, the agenda reflects a great deal of what ordinary working people want. It promises to end inflation and the outsourcing of manufacturing. It wants to ‘make America the dominant energy producer in the world, by far’. It calls for ‘large tax cuts for workers’, rebuilding America’s cities, keeping trans athletes out of women’s sports and cancelling electric-vehicle mandates – all policy proposals popular with most Americans. Vitally, it promises to ‘fight for and protect social security and Medicare with no cuts, including no changes to the retirement age’. This is another departure from Project 2025 in favour of Trump’s working-class constituents.

Stripped of mendacious liberal talking points, this is the platform of a unity candidate. Clearly, Trump is thinking about attracting Democrats as well as Republicans with policies that have wide appeal across the political divide. It is a consensus platform that reflects where the majority of Americans find themselves. They reject the abortion ban put forward by the conservative elites. They are caught between both the anti-gay right and pro-child-transitioning left. And they have been abandoned by the pro-corporate, tax-cuts right as well as by the woke, corporate left.

The liberal media have cast Trump as an extremist because the truth is so much more threatening. In policy terms, he is a moderate, even a liberal, who has assumed the kind of agenda that would have been very familiar to a Democrat 50 years ago. His base isn’t right-wing fanatics. It’s the vast, multiracial, deeply tolerant working class, many of whom were Democrats in the recent past – in some cases, the very recent past. That is the real affront the Democratic elites cannot forgive him for.

Batya Ungar-Sargon is a spiked columnist and author of Second Class: How the Elites Betrayed America’s Working Men and Women.

Picture by: Getty.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Topics Politics USA


Want to join the conversation?

Only spiked supporters and patrons, who donate regularly to us, can comment on our articles.

Join today