Ahead of South Carolina campaign launch, Trump ditches banter for substance on issues

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Ahead of his scheduled appearance at the South Carolina State House to kick off his presidential campaign in the pivotal primary battleground state, former President Donald Trump has begun to flesh out his policies for a prospective second term in the White House in greater detail.

Trump officially announced his candidacy for president in November of 2022, shortly after the midterm elections in which Republicans claimed control of the House of Representatives. He has since largely refrained from holding major events, instead opting for the steady release of substantive policy videos via his social media platform, Truth Social.

The short videos feature Trump explaining his policies in detail and focus on one major issue facing Americans per release. With each video, the picture of a second Trump administration becomes clearer.

Trump vows to protect free speech

On Dec. 15, Trump vowed to “reclaim the right to free speech for all Americans.” In that release, he pointed to revelations of collusion between the federal government and Big Tech firms to curtail lawful speech.

“First, within hours of my inauguration, I will sign an executive order banning any federal department or agency from colluding with any organization, business or person to censor, limit, categorize, or impede the lawful speech of American citizens,” he said. He also announced he would bar the use of federal funds to label lawful speech as “misinformation” and pledged to identify and fire those who had participated in such efforts.

He then said he would direct the Department of Justice to investigate any criminality involved in federal censorship and called on House Republicans to send preservation letters to the government and Big Tech firms to retain evidence of censorship. He further called for an end to federal funding to organizations that support censorship.

Trump also pledged to revise Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, asserting that Big Tech platforms should only receive protection from liability “if they meet high standards of neutrality, transparency, fairness, and non-discrimination.” 

Also in the video was a call for Congress to pass a digital bill of rights to protect users of online platforms and to erect safeguards against government takedowns of content.

Trump vows to crack down on illegal immigration and administrative complicity

In late December, Trump lamented the immigration crisis that has exploded under the Biden administration. The former president rejected any form of immigration amnesty, saying it “rewards Joe Biden’s lawlessness.”

Trump acknowledged flaws in the asylum system, but contended that the Biden administration’s handling of the issue was motivated not by legitimate asylum concerns but instead by a desire to admit as many migrants into the U.S. as possible.

“Our border is not open because of insufficient resources or legal authorities,” Trump asserted. “Our border is open because Joe Biden has ordered it to be open.

“The most important reform needed right now is a total ban on Biden using taxpayer dollars to free illegal aliens and criminal penalties for administrative non-compliance which happens every single minute of every single day.”

Trump calls for military action against drug cartels, death penalty for drug smugglers and human traffickers

In early January, Trump declared that he would designate major drug cartels as “Foreign Terrorist Organizations” and work to cut off their access to global financial systems. He further promised to work closely with other nations to coordinate an international response. Trump praised the efforts of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in fighting the cartels, but lamented that he had been unsuccessful and would remain so without serious support form the United States.

He also promised to make full use of the United States Navy to patrol American waters and impose a maritime embargo on illicit drug shipments into the country. “We will guarantee that the waters of the western hemisphere are not used to traffic illicit drugs to our country,” he said.

He called on Congress to pass a law establishing the death penalty for drug smugglers and human traffickers, a position he has previously espoused on multiple occasions, including at a July 2022 speech at the America First Policy Institute.

Trump vows to counter Chinese economic encroachment, protect U.S. energy grid

On Wednesday, Trump lamented that Chinese communist actors were attempting to purchase critical elements of U.S. energy infrastructure while the Biden administration pursued green energy policies that he asserted would not succeed. Instead, Trump proposed forcing Chinese firms to liquidate their interests in critical U.S. assets.

“We should be very concerned about all Chinese communist activity in the United States,” he warned on Wednesday. His statement comes amid mounting concerns about Chinese-linked companies making domestic land purchases, including near sensitive locations such as military bases.

“To protect our country, we need to enact aggressive new restrictions on Chinese ownership of any vital infrastructure in the United States, including energy, technology, telecommunications, farmland, natural resources, medical supplies, and other strategic national assets,” Trump asserted.

“We should begin the process of forcing the Chinese to sell any current holdings that put our national security at risk,” he concluded.

Trump pledges to take on two-tiered justice system

On Thursday, Trump decried the “white glove treatment” he says the Department of Justice was according President Joe Biden in addressing his handling of classified documents and contrasted it with the FBI raid on his own Mar-a-Lago estate last year over a similar issue.

“At the very same moment when my ultra-secure Mar-a-Lago home was raided by the FBI, Joe Biden was harboring classified documents in his China-funded Penn Center and his unsecured garage,” he began.

Trump noted that Biden had not been president prior to his storage of the recently discovered materials. Much of Trump’s legal defense has rested on the president’s broad authority to declassify materials unilaterally, an argument that would not apply to Biden’s handling of materials during Trump’s tenure as president.

“Biden lied to the American people and weaponized the Justice Department… to go after me for the very crime he actually committed,” the former president declared.

“When I return to the White House, we will end the era of partisan witch hunts, restore equal justice under the law, and get back to government that delivers for the American people,” Trump vowed.

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