Call me a masochist, but I watched the entirety of Donald Trump’s March 25 rally in Waco, Texas. I watched it to confirm my belief that he is getting crazier. I was curious about what he might say about his possible indictment by the Manhattan DA. I wondered what sort of crowd he would attract and how it would react to a typical Trump rant. I got all those answers, but I also got a primer on the policy proposals that Trump would pursue if (heaven forbid) he returned to the White House.
I had assumed I knew all about Trump’s policies. In a way, we all have made such assumptions. Ask people on the street what Trump stands for, and they will mention Trump’s wall, trade, America First, lower taxes, fewer regulations, opposition to climate change, and “culture wars.” Those who hate Trump will mention racism, his history of sexual assaults, grift, the January 6 insurrection, and The Big Lie.
In Waco, Donald Trump delivered a 92-minute speech. I did not have my stopwatch out, but more than an hour was about himself. Trump lamented the “weaponization” of the justice system that he claims has victimized him with endless unfair and ungrounded investigations. He vilified his supposed torturers, calling them Marxists, scumbags, globalists, and Democrats.
He also surprised me by playing a rendition of the right-wing anthem, “Justice for All,” performed by a choir of people jailed for the January 6 insurrection. While they sang, a video screen showed pictures of the riot. Later in the speech, the defeated ex-president said, “some of them are patriots.”
Watching the first hour of Trump’s speech was a challenge. Unlike in-person attendees, I could press the pause button to take a break from the endless stream of complaints about the 2020 election and much more. Press reports suggest that a noticeable number of attendees streamed out of the event before it was over. That’s not surprising given the Texas heat and what, to that point, was Trump being Trump.
Eventually, Trump turned to what he would do if re-elected. Focusing on those proposals or claims that are not already widely known, here are a few things worth remembering:
After suggesting that President Biden is leading the world into World War III, Trump claimed that only his election could prevent it. He did not elaborate on which Biden’s policies were making a world war inevitable, but they appear to focus on Ukraine.
Trump claimed the Russian invasion of Ukraine would never have happened if he were president. He implied that his relationship with Vladimir Putin was the key. He then indicated that if elected president in November 2024, he would settle the Ukraine war “within 24 hours,” acting even before he was inaugurated.
Trump promised to “clean up America” not only by curtailing illegal immigration but by executing “the largest mass deportation” in history. After claiming that “smart” dictators and others were emptying prisons, insane asylums, and mental institutions and sending the inmates/patients to the U.S., Trump indicated he would send them back. If the “original countries” refused to take them back, Trump said he would cut off all American aid.
Trump also said he would address growing Chinese economic and military power. He plans an all-out trade war against China to stop the importation of most Chinese goods. Trump did not address how such a trade embargo might impact the U.S. economy or how the Chinese might react.
Education is also a focus of Trump’s policy proposals. He did not call for improving the quality of schools or making American students more competitive in science, technology, engineering, or math. Instead, he promised to prohibit federal funds to any school with a vaccine or mask policy or that permitted the teaching of critical race theory. Also, taking a page from Florida Governor Ron “DeSanctimonius,” he called for parental control of schools. He condemned the “mutilation of children” and an end to “the participation of men in women’s sports.” Trump indicated parents should have the right to fire school principals who “are not getting the job done.”
Not part of Trump speech, unsurprisingly, was any discussion of an issue essential to our future on the Eastern Shore—climate change. Trump bragged about his withdrawal from the “disastrous” Paris Climate Accords in his speech and repeatedly called for “restoring” American energy independence.
These are not the only Trump policy proposals mentioned (or not mentioned) in the speech, but, in my view, are the most important. . . .
Curiously, while writing this piece, I searched in vain for a transcript of Trump’s remarks. I found none. I reviewed Trump’s speech by listening to the entire hour and 40 minutes and reading various news reports. Does the “fake news” industry have it in for Trump? In a way, it does. Trump has lied so often and engages in so much offensive rhetoric that the mainstream press tends to ignore him. Trump considers that unfair. Maybe it is, but it is also unfortunate. To understand the risk of Trump winning the White House in 2024, it is necessary to understand the issues he is running on and the promises he is making.
Some of the nation’s most prestigious newspapers and media outlets have ceased following Trump. I could not find coverage of the speech in The New York Times. The Washington Post had an article, but it was a feed from the Associated Press—the paper that prides itself on its coverage of politics apparently did not send its own reporter to Waco. What does that tell you?
If you still support Trump or believe he is being treated unfairly, I urge you to watch the video. It is available on C-SPAN without any editorial comment. If you have already rejected Trump and pray nightly for him to disappear from the political stage, I urge you to listen to the speech. Only by knowing Trump can you ensure his defeat.
J.E. Dean is a retired attorney and public affairs consultant writing on politics, government, and other subjects.