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Donald Trump's brand new Republican Party platform leans into popular issues.
Until now, Donald Trump has ignored a basic rule of politics: always expand your base, writes Eli Lake. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Trump’s MAGA for the Masses

The brand-new Republican Party platform leans into popular issues.

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For the last eight years, Donald Trump has ignored a basic rule of politics: always expand your base and appeal to as many supporters as possible. Well, if the new Republican Party platform is any indication, Trump is finally taking this conventional advice about elections. 

The new document, out this week, is far briefer than past platforms and reads like MAGA for the masses. It’s dedicated to the “forgotten men and women of America.” Trump has used the phrase since 2016, but it was made famous after a 1932 radio speech by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. 

As one might expect, the document emphasizes immigration, Trump’s signature issue. And in some cases the language is extreme. For example, in the all-caps section at the end of the platform’s preamble, it promises to “STOP THE MIGRANT INVASION” and to “CARRY OUT THE LARGEST DEPORTATION OPERATION IN AMERICAN HISTORY.” 

While in 2016 those views would have sounded radical and dangerous, the country has since moved closer to Trump on the issue. An Economist/YouGov poll from June, for example, found that only 29 percent of registered voters approved of President Biden’s immigration policy, with 64 percent disapproving. That poll also found that 29 percent of registered Democrats disapproved of Biden’s immigration policy. 

The Trump GOP platform also leans into other popular issues. It says the Republican Party opposes men playing in women’s sports, a position in sharp contrast to Democrats, who have championed trans rights. Here too, Trump’s party is playing the percentages. A 2023 Gallup poll found that 69 percent of Americans say transgender athletes should be allowed to compete in sports only against other athletes of their same birth sex. 

Other parts of the platform clearly show an effort to expand the MAGA base. Consider its promise to cut taxes for workers and not to tax tips, an important issue for the restaurant industry. 

And after Democrats successfully framed the Republican pro-life position as extreme and as opposed to any and all abortions—even procedures that would save the mother’s life—Trump’s new platform softens some of these more restrictive policies. After trumpeting the fall of Roe v. Wade in 2022, it continues, “After 51 years, because of us, that power has been given to the States and to a vote of the People. We will oppose Late Term Abortion, while supporting mothers and policies that advance Prenatal Care, access to Birth Control, and IVF (fertility treatments).” 

Trump’s new platform also provides an alternative governing plan to the Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025—a far more conservative agenda that Democrats have sought to tie to Trump. That document, for example, called for slashing much of the administrative state and the eventual abolition of the Education Department. 

On July 5, Trump posted his disdain for the project on Truth Social. “I have no idea who is behind it,” he wrote. “I disagree with some of the things they’re saying and some of the things they’re saying are absolutely ridiculous and abysmal.” 

Now, when reporters ask the Trump campaign about its governing agenda, he can point them to the 16-page Republican platform instead of denying any connection to the Heritage Foundation’s 922-page wishcasting document

And, in this respect, you could say that Trump has made political platforms brief again.

Eli Lake is a Free Press columnist. Follow him on X @EliLake. Read his recent piece, “Joe Biden’s Alternative Facts.

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