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This is what it’s come to.
Donald Trump has been running for president for more than three months, but it has sometimes been easy to forget. Fox News, which lent him an endless supply of on-air advertising during his last two campaigns, has all but blacklisted him, offering hours of free programming instead to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Although Elon Musk’s Twitter reinstated the former president’s account, Trump is still posting his half-baked thoughts on his preferred social-media site, Truth Social, instead. There is just a lot less of Trump in the news these days, which is good for most people—who frankly deserve a break—but is perhaps of a troubling sign for a man who has been powered by publicity for most of his adult life.
What is the point of a third Trump campaign, beyond settling an (admittedly quite large and ever growing) number of scores? What is “The Wall,” now that he’s already built one? On Friday, Politico offered a glimpse at Trump’s new policy direction: He’s going to become an urbanist.
Futuristic cities on federal land with flying cars. No notes!
But in taking on the urban-design space, Trump is perhaps tapping into a particularly salient vein on the right, where conspiracies about central-planners imposing authoritarian rules under the guise of “sustainability” have gained traction for years. During the Obama era, my colleague, Stephanie Mencimer, wrote about the fears of something called Agenda 21, a bland United Nations action plan that activists feared would result in Americans being “forcibly moved from their suburban dream homes into urban “hobbit homes” and required to give up their cars.” (If only!) Now you can find a similar outcry over something called a “15-minute city,” which is the idea that you should be able to access essential services within a quarter-of-an-hour radius on foot or by bike.
Trump’s plan…calls for holding a contest to design and create up to ten new “Freedom Cities,” built from the ground up on federal land. It proposes an investment in the development of vertical-takeoff-and-landing vehicles; the creation of “hives of industry” sparked by cutting off imports from China; and a population surge sparked by “baby bonuses” to encourage would-be-parents to get on with procreation. It is all, his team says, part of a larger nationwide beautification campaign meant to inspire forward-looking visions of America’s future.