During his run for the White House, Donald Trump was frequently criticised for his campaign’s lack of concrete policy promises.
But on Monday the President-elect of the United States appeared in a short video on social media in which he outlined the aims of a Trump administration.
In a move which may offer some small comfort to anxious liberals, Trump avoided mentioning some of his more incendiary campaign promises, such as tracking Muslims, deporting immigrants and repealing the Affordable Care Act, and instead spoke of his intention to create jobs, renegotiate trade deals and impose bans on lobbying.
But in the video, published on YouTube, he also indicated that he will seek to “cancel” energy policies that he sees as restricting economic growth – a potential disaster for the environment.
“My agenda will be based on a simple core principle: putting America first,” said Trump, in the straight-to-camera video.
“Whether it’s producing steel, building cars or curing disease, I want the next generation of production and innovation to happen right here, in our great homeland: America – creating wealth and jobs for American workers.”
The President-elect said that he had asked his transition team, whose job it is to manage the exchange of power between the Obama and Trump administrations, to “develop a list of executive actions” they can take on Trump’s first day in office.
Although they are often confused with legally binding presidential executive orders, most executive actions “carry no legal weight,” according to political writer Tom Murse. Instead, he says, a good way to think of executive actions is as the president’s “wish list of policies” – meaning that not everything Trump has outlined in this most recent video is guaranteed to be enacted.
The key points of his statement are summarised below.
Trump steered clear of mentioning his previously stated plans to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants in military-style roundups.
However, he still said that he would “direct the Department of Labour to investigate all abuses of visa programmes that undercut the American worker”.
The President-elect’s comments on energy may still prompt anxiety among those who care about the environment. Trump has been infamously cavalier in his attitude towards green issues in the past, promising to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Accord and notably once describing global warming as a conspiracy “created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive”.
In his new video, he pledged to “cancel job-killing restriction on the production of American energy, including shale energy and clean coal”.
Trump said he would ask the US department of defence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to “develop a comprehensive plan to protect America’s vital infrastructure from cyber-attacks and all other form of attacks”.
It’s probably just as well that Trump is consulting with others on the matter of cybersecurity. During a discussion about cyber warfare in September’s presidential debate, he was roundly mocked after he failed to mention any concrete facts or policies, choosing instead to boast that his 10-year-old son Barron “is so good with computers, it’s unbelievable”.
Trade and regulation
Trump pledged to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement which he described as “a potential disaster for our country”.
In keeping with the Republican ethos of small government, he also said that his administration will “formulate a rule which says for every one new regulation two old regulations must be eliminated”.
Since Trump’s election victory, his team has been dogged by accusations that his transition to the White House is going less than smoothly. Several former allies have been fired in what has been described as a “purge” orchestrated by one of Trump’s closest advisors, his daughter Ivanka’s husband Jared Kushner.
Recent appointees to Trump’s cabinet of horrors, meanwhile, include several notorious racists, sexists and xenophobes. His new chief strategist is Steve Bannon, the head of ultra-conservative, alt-right ‘news organisation’ Breitbart News (choice headlines: “Birth control makes women unattractive and crazy”; “Young Muslims in the West are a ticking time bomb”).
Michael Flynn – an Islamophobe who has been paid by authoritarian regimes in Turkey and Russia, and is described by several former colleagues as “unhinged” – has been made national security advisor. And Jeff Sessions, Trump’s new attorney general, was rejected for a federal judgeship in 1986 after making racist remarks, including allegedly calling a black lawyer “boy”.
But in his latest video, Trump insisted that “our transition team is working very smoothly, efficiently and effectively. Truly great and talented men and women, patriots indeed, are being brought in and many will soon be a part of our government, helping us to make America great again.”
Images: Rex Features, Getty