How Trump Seeks To Become Emperor as President

In his second term, Donald Trump intends to pardon insurrectionists and throw out climate action — and dismantle democracy. Report from Washington.

The unofficial announcement is still on the home page of the far-right Heritage Foundation: Interested parties can apply for a job in a potential Trump administration in 2025: “With the right conservative policy recommendations and precisely selected and trained personnel, we will take back the government.”* In a questionnaire, in addition to your attitude, you have to give information about political role models and books. Then you’re supposed to approve or reject some propositions. “The president must be able to implement his agenda without hindrance from unelected bureaucrats,”* one reads.

Donald Trump’s first term began in 2017 with a ludicrous mix of drama, incompetence and chaos. The reality TV star was not prepared for the role of president either in content or in personnel. There were no political concepts.

The narcissistic right-leaning populist quickly surrounded himself with generals and businesspeople who would take him seriously. A fatal mistake — on the part of allied countries too, which trusted “the adults” in the cabinet: Neither former executive Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State nor the former generals James Mattis as Secretary of Defense and John Kelly as Chief of Staff survived long. Tillerson was “dumb as a rock,” Mattis “overrated” and Kelly equipped with a “very small brain.”

Detailed Pre-planning

Now, the former president and the influential puppet masters in his vicinity absolutely want to prevent repeating such days of chaos. Almost everyone believes, despite court proceedings, that the Republicans will run with Trump in 2024 once more. In the event of his victory, prepare yourself: Hundreds of political strategists and advisers are working in Trump’s team and with far-right think tanks on blueprints for the first months of the administration. They’re drafting papers, connecting contacts and screening potential candidates for departments and federal agencies.

“In recent election cycles, presidential candidates normally began transition planning in the late spring of election year or even after the party’s nomination was secured. That is too late.” wrote Paul Dans, who was responsible for personnel planning in the first Trump administration: “We want to be ready to govern on Jan. 20, 2025.” Dans leads Project 2025 at the Heritage Foundation.

The far-right Center for Renewing America, led by Russell Vought, submitted a draft budget, which drastically cuts funds for tax administration and combating far-right terrorism. And the America First Policy Institute under the leadership of Brooke Rollins has outlined guidelines for practically every policy field.

Limitless Hunger for Power

There’s no chance that Trump will ever read one of these tomes. Besides, the 77-year-old is much too preoccupied with his criminal proceedings and himself. However, the concepts fit a narcissistic personality and limitless hunger for power in a fatal way. They’re running on a massive concentration of power in the Oval Office, a large-scale disempowerment of institutions and, moreover, an end to the well-established system of checks and balances.

“The big theme of a second Trump presidency will be revenge,” Geoffrey Kabaservice believes: “Revenge on the liberal establishment and on its enemies.”* Kabaservice works as director for political studies at the small Niskanen Center. The moderate-conservative think tank is committed to market-liberal values. This differentiates it from many progressive institutes in Washington.

’Extremely Destructive’

“It worries me that Trump will have a better grip on the government this time,”* says Yale graduate Kabaservice: “He won’t orient himself to the Republican establishment that held him back from his worst impulses last time. If the man can actually implement his fantasies, that is extremely destructive and dangerous for the United States and the entire world.”*

For a liberal audience, the plans of America First ideologues actually read like a horror novel: Trump wants to pardon the insurrectionists of Jan. 6, complete the Mexican border wall, permanently enshrine tax breaks for the rich, impose tariffs on foreign companies and allegedly pull out of NATO. And he regularly boasts that he will end the Ukraine war “in 24 hours.”

Their plans in climate and energy policy are fatal. “If you want to spend money on electric cars, you’re better off investing in a towing company,” Trump thundered in Pennsylvania — his supporters howled. His plans include the abolishment of numerous requirements on greenhouse gas emissions. Practically all programs for promoting clean energy, including the billion dollar subsidies through the climate package, will be thrown out and the Arctic opened up for oil companies. There are no targets for lowering greenhouse gases in Project 2025.

The United States, a Future Autocracy?

However, the plans for an expansion of presidential power, which would drag the United States dangerously close to an autocratic regime, sound the most dramatic. The “deconstruction of the administrative state,” announced by Trump’s former chief ideologue Steve Bannon, would be addressed in a second term.

Dans, mastermind of Project 2025, bemoans the “long march of cultural Marxism” through institutions: “The government has become a colossus that fights against American citizens and conservative values. Our freedoms are constricted like never before.”

This should be coming to its conclusion. The ideological battle against the strong state pairs with Trump’s personal interest in preventing any limitation of his supposed absolute power (up to and including criminal prosecution). “Anyone who doubts Trump’s intentions must therefore be a radical-left activist,”* Kabaservice warns.

At the beginning of a second presidency, a gigantic purge would occur in the departments and agencies. “We will demolish the deep state, we will expel the warmongers,” Trump announced: “We will drive out the globalists, we will cast out the communists. We will throw off the political class that hates our country.”

The mechanism for this is provided by the executive order signed by Trump in October 2020, Schedule F, which was nullified by his successor, Joe Biden, and would now be revived: It allows for all federal employees who are involved in some way with implementing government policy to be dismissed. “Trump believes that as president he can do what he wants,” Kabaservice says: “That’s why people who got their job due to their competence will be replaced by those whose qualification is absolute loyalty to Trump.”*

In his second term, Trump would develop even more into an imperial ruler. He is certain to bring the Department of Justice completely under his control, whose leaders occasionally contradicted him in his first term despite far-right sentiments, and to push forward the politicization of the armed forces. The motto everywhere would be “Trump First.” Then the West would probably no longer be able to rely on military aid from the United States.

Kabaservice still hopes that there are enough reasonable Republican voices in Congress who will help prevent the worst outcome. However, you can’t be certain: “The time has come for our European allies to develop a worst case scenario.”*

Editor’s Note: These quotes, though accurately translated, could not be verified.

About this publication

About Michael Stehle 96 Articles
I am a graduate of the University of Maryland with a BA in Linguistics and Germanic Studies. I have a love for language and I find translation to be both an engaging activity as well as an important process for connecting the world.

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