Should President Trump win re-election in 2020, expect him to view his victory as a mandate to double down on his first-term actions and policies.

This means a step-up in ignoring any facts that get in his way, be they from scientists, his advisers or anyone else. He will assume that his blistering attacks on the Democratic nominee helped him win, so expect more vulgar and demeaning tweets directed at anyone who criticizes him – with even less restraint, given it will be his last term in office. And expect continued and increased anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies if his past positions do not cost him a second term.

While claiming to be a populist concerned about average folks, Trump’s policies have in fact helped the wealthy the most – most notably the Republican-backed tax bill – and this will continue should he win re-election.

He is talking now about an executive order to cut capital gains taxes, with the vast majority of savings going to top income earners. We can be sure Trump will continue to look for means to benefit himself and his rich colleagues; there are already a number of current and former Administration personnel who stand accused of misspending government funds or benefiting financially from their positions. Trump has been stonewalling requests for them to testify before Congress, and in a second term he will certainly resist any such investigations into his or his administration’s actions. Expect such resistance to expand to any means of accountability that might be attempted. Trump will become more brazen in promoting his own lucrative business dealings regardless of conflicts of interest. With his hand-picked attorney general and favorable court appointments, he has little to fear.

The president has in general shown little concern for the average person, be it deregulating polluting industries or rolling back regulations that might mitigate climate change and its deleterious effects. He has removed consumer protections regarding products, financial transactions, and health-care. If he can do all that without losing large swaths of the American voting public, why not pursue massive deregulation in the name of freeing the economy – all the while benefiting companies in the energy and financial sectors?

How? Executive order, executive order, executive order – with little resistance from compliant congressional Republicans.

Trump’s most important legacy is usually acknowledged to be his federal court appointments, which he will continue to make with increased vigor if the Senate remains in Republican hands. But his biggest impact, should he serve another term, will be in undermining democracy and our basic institutions and norms. The president does not respect the separation of powers; this is seen routinely and dramatically when he politicizes the operations of the Department of Justice. With a compliant attorney general, this will become worse in Trump’s second term.

He uses the machinery of government to help his friends and punish his enemies. He undermines our intelligence agencies with public criticism. He views a free press as a contemptible enemy to be derided and tamed. He nominates acting heads of departments and agencies that need not be approved by Congress and thus will do his bidding. Trump has a good start on undermining the integrity of our government, but when he steps up his pace if re-elected, we could see a new normal that is continued by at least Republican presidents.

With a second-term increase in executive orders and accompanying support from the Department of Justice and court rulings, Trump will look more and more look like one of the dictators that he admires around the world. Do not expect his fellow Republicans, who fear his wrath, to challenge him.

If all this does not scare Democrats, independents, at least some Republicans and currently apathetic citizens into voting against Trump in 2020, nothing will. And if Trump wins and Republicans hold the Senate, and even win back the House, the consequences for our country could be even more dire than outlined here.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.