If We Allow Project 2025 to Happen It Will Cement America as a Rightwing Authoritarian State

by | Dec 14, 2023 | Opinions & Commentary

Photo by Spenser H

If We Allow Project 2025 to Happen It Will Cement America as a Rightwing Authoritarian State

by | Dec 14, 2023 | Opinions & Commentary

Photo by Spenser H

Women of childbearing age, young adults, children, African Americans, undocumented immigrants and other marginalized communities have the most to lose if Donald Trump wins a second term.

Republished with permission from Florida Phoenix, by Barrington Salmon

In 1970, as political activist Angela Davis languished in a jail cell for a crime she didn’t commit, acclaimed writer and civil rights activist James Baldwin warned her and us in an open letter “… If we know, then we must fight for your life as though it were our own—which it is—and render impassable with our bodies the corridor to the gas chamber. For, if they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night.”

In 2023, women of childbearing age, young adults, children, African Americans, undocumented immigrants and other marginalized communities have the most to lose if Donald Trump wins a second term because he’s coming for us.

Trump—aided and abetted by far-right extremists, MAGA supporters and the remnants of the Republican Party—poses a clear and present danger to the country. They are gearing up to reassert racial and political dominance by upending the political system, eviscerating the rule of law and wielding unconstrained power in service of the interests of the far-right conservative and Christian nationalist minority.

The instrument they plan to use to implement this strategy is Project 2025. In a nutshell, as Harold Meyerson explained in a recent article, Project 2025 is a blueprint for a conservative presidency.

The actions of liberal politicians in Washington have created a desperate need and unique opportunity for conservatives to start undoing the damage the Left has wrought and build a better country for all Americans in 2025,” the Project 2025 manifesto said. “It is not enough for conservatives to win elections. If we are going to rescue the country from the grip of the radical Left, we need both a governing agenda and the right people in place, ready to carry this agenda out on day one of the next conservative administration.”

A Vast and Secretive Dark Money Network

Project 2025 is a sweeping rightwing blueprint for the next Republican president, Trump or not, to run the country for the foreseeable future. Funded by The Heritage Foundation, Koch Brothers and a vast and secretive dark money network, the project has recruited at least 80 far-right organizations and entities to the cause.

Conservative warriors’ plan “to defund the Department of Justice, dismantle the FBI, break up the Department of Homeland Security and eliminate the Departments of Education and Commerce,” the 30-chapter, 920-page tome says.

The president would have “complete power over quasi-independent agencies such as the FCC, which makes and enforces rules for television and internet companies that have been the bane of Trump’s political existence in the last few years. And they want to ensure that what remains of this slashed-down bureaucracy is reliably MAGA conservative—not just for the next president but for a long time to come—and that the White House maintains total control of it.”

Project 2025 offers proposals to deregulate targeted industries, privatize government functions and help American corporations to make more money at the expense of American workers, the middle class and everyone except the oligarchs and the 1%.

Meyerson, editor-at-large at The American Prospect, said far-right conservatives and The Heritage Foundation have an extensive enemies’ list that includes “welfare recipients, lazy and liberal civil servants, anti-business regulators, environmentalists, and union bosses, “scientists, woke bureaucrats, woke educators, woke diplomats, woke generals and admirals, woke G-men, and anyone who doesn’t indulge the next Republican president’s every whim (an adaptation to the likelihood of a Trump nomination),” in the commentary titled, “The Far Right Has a Plan to Remake America. They Even Wrote It Down.”

Those in charge in the incoming administration are prepared to purge those deemed disloyal after identifying and interviewing “every Treasury Department official who participated in its DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) activities and programs, and make such activity ‘“per se grounds for termination of employment.”’

Leonard Leo, a major right-wing donor who significantly influenced and shaped the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority under Trump, has been a major fundraiser for Project 2025. (On Nov. 30, the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary voted to subpoena Leo “as part of an ethics probe into undisclosed financial ties to U.S. Supreme Court justices.”)

According to a press release from the nonprofit Accountable.US, recent reporting from NBC shows that “The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, stepped up efforts to boost its Project 2025 initiative by ramping up grants to the venture aimed at creating a ‘government-in-waiting’ for the next Republican presidential administration, according to a new tax filing.

“The foundation distributed over $1.67 million in grants in 2022—including a total of $965,000 to organizations on the advisory board of Project 2025, tax records show. These donations accounted for 58% of Heritage’s total grant-making in 2022.

“Project 2025’s board of more than 80 conservative organizations includes nearly 40 that have received funding from dark-money groups linked to Leonard Leo … a prolific fundraiser, Leo is affiliated with an extensive network of tax-exempt groups, including DonorsTrust, a donor-advised nonprofit that directs money to other organizations and groups seeking to influence policy.”

Vacillating an a Knife’s Edge

America is at an inflection point, vacillating on a knife’s edge because of Trump, who has tapped into a deep reservoir of grievance, hatred and resentment plans that will be fully unleashed in a second term. Trump’s incendiary rhetoric—mirroring Hitler and Mussolini—is convincing observers that he’s a fascist, to add to his authoritarian bent.

In interviews, rallies and on social media Trump has boasted of unleashing political violence, targeting and crushing his enemies, routing the media, appointing a special prosecutor to pursue President Joe Biden and his family for alleged corruption, and snatching up undocumented immigrants and holding them against their will in vast concentration camps before deporting them.

In addition, a number of critics charge, during “Trump’s Revenge Tour,” he and his allies are determined to establish a rightwing, authoritarian, theocratic, white nationalist government.

Writing recently on Truth Social, Trump said:“Republicans are already thinking about what we are going to do to Biden and the Communists when it’s our turn.”

He elaborated further.

“We pledge to you that we will root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country that lie and steal and cheat on elections,” Trump said in a recent speech. “They’ll do anything, whether legally or illegally, to destroy America and to destroy the American Dream … the threat from outside forces is far less sinister, dangerous and grave than the threat from within. Our threat is from within …”

This anti-democratic, illiberal move to upend the U.S Constitution and government should be cause for deep concern. I am not alone in fearing that if Trump gets back to the White House, there may not be a free and fair American election again in my lifetime.

Astonishingly, a year before the 2024 contest, Trump is running away with the presidential nomination despite being impeached, indicted four times and charged with 91 felonies in state and federal courts. He leads the pack even though his former officials warn the electorate not to vote for him and despite being called “morally bankrupt and lethally incompetent” by a former Trump White House official.

Author and legal analyst James Zirin, said in an op-ed in The Hill on Nov 13 Trump wants to “terminate the Constitution to restore himself to power, an insurrectionary act in and of itself. That power would be “in the hands of the president with neither checks nor balances.”

Trump has vowed on Day 1 to invoke the Insurrection Act to deploy the military to violently crush any protest or dissent. He plans to purge the Justice Department of anyone deemed disloyal and deploy across four federal agencies a 50,000-strong bloc of loyalists to defense, legal, judicial and regulatory slots.

Political consultant and media strategist Rick Wilson expressed alarm at the Trump-induced danger that looms.

“He’s using the power of government, the state, to punish his political enemies, use the power of the state to achieve his personal political vengeance on people who he believes have wronged him,” said Wilson, a former Republican, co-founder and board member of The Lincoln Project, who lives in Tallahassee. This is not America, this is something much darker, much different, much more dangerous.”

Alex Aronson, executive director of Court Accountability, a nonpartisan judicial research and advocacy organization, said Americans should be working assiduously and in concert to confront, disrupt and obliterate this insidious plot.

“Project 2025 is a plan to destroy the U.S government,” said Aronson. “It’s an enormous problem, a huge problem that the U.S government isn’t standing up to this moment. It’s complicated and speaks to some tensions on the Left.”

Aronson said no one should assume that the Republican Party is an honest operator, explaining that the party and its allies are willing to use violence and extremism to reach its ends.

And like James Baldwin, he said Americans are fighting for their very lives.

“The impulse is to work with these people and misconceive the nature of their project which is a blueprint to destroy the U.S government. We have to see this threat for what it is,” Aronson said.

Florida Phoenix

Florida Phoenix

The Phoenix is a nonprofit news site that’s free of advertising and free to readers. We cover state government and politics with a staff of five journalists located at the Florida Press Center in downtown Tallahassee.

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