As Donald Trump’s latest presidential campaign moves forward, he’s taking a step that he didn’t bother with in 2016 or 2020: The Republican keeps releasing brief videos in which he addresses a specific controversy or policy issue. The New York Times reported a couple of months ago, “The videos, in which the former president speaks directly to the camera, are aimed at reassuring supporters that he’s focused on topics other than his 2020 defeat, an issue that flopped with midterm voters.”
As we discussed last month, these clips aren’t real policy proposals. It’s not as if the former president sat down with a bunch of wonks, explored the granular minutiae of governing solutions, and formulated a set of white papers which he’s unveiling episodically in video form.
On the contrary, these videos have all the sophistication of bumper stickers written in crayon.
His newest installment, for example, features the Republican speaking for roughly three-and-a-half minutes about his geopolitical vision — which is ridiculous, but which is very much worth paying attention to.
Trump begins the video by claiming, “We have never been closer to World War III than we are today under Joe Biden,” which isn’t even close to being true. (Tensions were far higher, for example, during the Cuban Missile Crisis.) Moments later, he characterized Russia’s war in Ukraine as a “proxy battle” that needs to end “immediately.”
Closer to home, the former president believes there’s a “globalist neo-con establishment” that is “perpetually dragging us into endless wars,” “pretending” to fight for democracy, and turning the United States into a “third-world dictatorship.” Trump’s solution? “The State Department, the defense bureaucracy, the intelligence services, and all the rest need to be completely overhauled and reconstituted to fire the Deep Staters,” he added.
Evidently, once the United States’ military, intelligence agencies, and diplomatic corps have been remodeled to fit Trump’s wishes, he intends to “reevaluate” our NATO alliance, its purpose, and its mission. This would, of course, be entirely in line with the Kremlin’s dream scenario, though that’s apparently not a consideration the former president is worried about. From the video’s official transcript:
“[T]he greatest threat to Western Civilization today is not Russia. It’s probably, more than anything else, ourselves and some of the horrible, U.S.A.-hating people that represent us. It’s the abolition of our national borders. It’s the failure to police our own cities. It’s the destruction of the rule of law from within. It’s the collapse of the nuclear family and fertility rates, like nobody can believe is happening. It’s the Marxists who would have us become a Godless nation worshipping at the altar of race, and gender, and environment. And it’s the globalist class that has made us totally dependent on China and other foreign countries that basically hate us.”
After downplaying the threat Russia poses, Trump drives the point home once more, concluding that American “globalists” are “doing more damage to America than Russia and China could ever have dreamed,” as these Americans chase “monsters and phantoms overseas.”
As visions go, this is more a weird and paranoid rant than the basis for a major party presidential platform. In fact, if one were to read the transcript, strip it from context, and not realize that it came from Trump’s political operation, a typical person might think it was an unhinged tirade from some random person with a YouTube channel that has four followers.
Or possibly a social media message from someone who seems a little too eager to promote pro-Kremlin propaganda.
After all, most mainstream Americans have no reason to believe the United States is a “third-world dictatorship” filled with nefarious, villainous officials who are far scarier than Russia and China. And yet, Trump not only believes this, he released a video bragging about it.
As a practical matter, it’s likely that Vladimir Putin will celebrate the clip and prepare new efforts to help return the former American president to the White House in order to advance the kind of agenda Moscow desperately wants to see. But as a political matter, I’d also love to know just how many congressional Republicans — and other GOP presidential aspirants — agree with the message Trump trumpeted in this video.