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The Trinity Voice

The student news site of Trinity Preparatory School

The Trinity Voice

The student news site of Trinity Preparatory School

The Trinity Voice

Project 2025

The New Fascist Playbook

  With yet another rematch between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, this year is shaping up to be another ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ election season and, as always, a life-and-death struggle for democracy and the very soul of the nation (as they all seem to be these days). But there is one thing that actually does make this election cycle a bit different. The GOP has been moving further right for years, with the Democrats not far behind, but recently, conservative policymakers have dropped a hot new single: Project 2025.

  Spearheaded by the Heritage Foundation (a well-funded conservative think tank based in Washington D.C.), Project 2025 is a massive 920-page conservative manifesto tilted Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise. The manifesto details how they intend to give the president vastly more power, destroy bureaucracy, root out “woke propaganda,” appoint vetted far-right figures at every level of government, and have it all ready to implement the day the next conservative president is sworn in, which they assume will be 2025. Despite Trump obviously being the Heritage Foundation’s first pick, the plan is not dependent on any particular candidate winning but can be implemented with any conservative figurehead at the reins, who will essentially become a completely unaccountable dictator.

  Project 2025 has four core pillars. First, the policy, as outlined in the 920-page document. This is where all the, frankly, disturbing policy proposals live. 

  Second, the personnel database, which has been described as the “conservative LinkedIn.” This will be a repository for conservative resumes from people across all sectors and from all walks of life to be selected as needed to staff positions in every level of government, at both the federal and state levels. 

  The third pillar is a training program. The Heritage Foundation has put together an online institute that will create willing and able soldiers to serve on the front line in the war against the ‘woke cabal of the deep state.’ 

  Finally, the fourth pillar is a 180-day playbook, a step-by-step guide for the new conservative president to systematically implement the policies listed in the manifesto. Think Ikea assembly instructions, but for fascism.

  These four pillars are the key components of the project. Taken together, they offer a comprehensive vision for the dystopian future many top conservative thinkers hope to usher in. It’s all pretty alarming. But where exactly does this come from? If you flip through the first pages of the manifesto, you’ll find a list of far-right think tanks, advisory groups, and business and government figures who contributed to the project. The manifesto credits 35 total authors as well as dozens of contributors, all with their credentials listed. It’s about what you’d expect: a lot of people from the Heritage Foundation, military hawks, a smattering of former Trump officials, extremist economists, and a considerable number of people who have worked in climate, energy, immigration, and legal positions under conservative governments.

  With the brains behind the project out of the way, let’s get into the nitty-gritty. What exactly do these people want? What’s their end goal? 

  Well, there are four main priorities. In their words, they want to “Restore the family as the centerpiece of American life and protect our children,” “Dismantle the administrative state and return self-governance to the American people,” “Defend our nation’s sovereignty, borders, and bounty against global threats,” and “Secure our God-given individual right to enjoy the ‘the blessings of liberty.’” You can probably already see where some of this is going, but let’s start with the boring stuff: the nuts and bolts of manipulating the federal government to serve the right.

  A lot of this project centers around gutting what is called the “administrative state.” This is stuff like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Federal Reserve, and so on; the hum-drum logistical stuff that nonetheless often plays an important role. There’s a lot of this stuff, so much so that it’s often called the fourth branch of government, and it deals with the day-to-day operations of the country. This includes everything from transportation, environmental regulations, food and water safety and so on. The people behind this project don’t really like rules in general, especially rules that protect the environment or poor people, so these agencies need to go. It’s not good enough that the president can appoint the heads of these administrative agencies (for example, Trump appointing a fossil fuel executive to head the EPA); they want complete power over everyone in these agencies because right now, the subject matter experts running them are not beholden to politics. 

  “States aren’t run purely by leaders,” said social science teacher B. Quinn McKenzie. “States are run by the people that answer to those leaders. You need good bureaucrats. You need people that know what they’re doing.”

  Much of the argument here centers around whether these agencies are constitutional. Conservatives like to claim that since the Constitution didn’t explicitly say federal agencies like these were part of their master plan, they are government overreach and should be dismantled. Historically, federal courts have disagreed with this assessment, so until now, we can rest assured that our food is safe to eat and our water isn’t contaminated with lead. 

  Okay, so we talked about the boring stuff, wanting to gut the administrative state, but what else is in there? It’s 920 pages after all, they’ve got to have some other ideas. Well, a lot of it is what you might expect. As Trump stated on numerous occasions, they want to kick the “cultural Marxists” out of the Department of Education, demolish the “deep state,” and combat “woke ideology” at all levels of government. They plan to do this by making extensive use of Schedule F, a piece of legislation established at the federal level by Trump, which allows the president to fire federal government officials at will, presumably for not sufficiently bending the knee.
The project calls for an executive branch with essentially unchecked power, making the president basically unaccountable to Congress. They want to dismantle the liberal system to build one more favorable to conservatives. That means scrapping environmental protections, moving away from globalism, and escalating tensions with China by ending economic engagement entirely. They want to crack down on immigration and criminalize LGBTQ+ expression. They claim that any talk of gender, gender identity, and so on is ‘pornography’ and should be banned and has no First Amendment protections. They want to scrap labor discrimination policies, “maintain a biblically based social science reinforced definition of family” (meaning scrapping protections for same-sex marriage), and plan to “secure our God-given individual rights to live freely” unless, of course, you’re one of the aforementioned groups they intend to criminalize out of existence. 

  In that vein, to touch very briefly on their views on ‘pornography,’ or what they describe as pornography, if you read the text, they basically just mean any discussion of gender, abortion, or any identity other than straight and cisgender. They want all instances of this kind of language stripped from society. While it’s a little cliche to compare the people behind this project to Nazis, do you know what books in Germany were the first to be burned? Which institutions were the first to be shuttered? Books on gender and sexuality and institutions that studied these topics.  

  But okay, we know that the writers of this manifesto and its advocates are one step removed from outright fascism at this point. But how are they justifying this? Yes, we all know they’d just force this stuff through if they could, but at least for now, they still have to play by the rules of Western liberalism. So, the key to their plan is to lean on unitary executive theory, which dates back to the Reagan administration.

  In a nutshell, this political theory suggests that maybe having three separate but equal branches of government isn’t a good idea and that, instead, the executive branch should dominate the relationship. Reagan’s team came up with this notion to help facilitate deregulation and it kind of just stuck. Every president since Reagan has made use of this theory to wield just a little bit more power than they probably should have: George W. Bush justifying his invasion of Iraq, Obama justifying widespread US deployment overseas, Trump’s Muslim ban, and so on. Now, the writers of Project 2025 want to make sure the president has essentially unchecked power and that Congress cannot prevent the president from doing what they want to do, however heinous their pet projects may be. Most fascists throughout history have come into power through technically legal means, and then they change what’s legal, so you can’t get them out again.

  So what’s the solution here? Vote harder? No. Do that if you want, especially if you think you can make a difference at the local level, but things have gotten worse for us with every single president, and things have certainly gotten worse for people living in the third world as the US gets more and more vicious abroad as our global dominance declines. The solution is the same as it’s always been: mass movements. 

  Join an organization, unionize your workplace, learn to defend yourself and your community from fascist vigilante violence. Keep yourself safe online, learn your rights, educate yourself and those around you. Things like Project 2025 don’t happen in a vacuum. There is an economic base to these developments. The US is losing ground on the world stage and will soon be superseded by China as the dominant economic power. Domestically, the average worker is worse off now than in living memory; we can’t afford the skyrocketing cost of housing, food, healthcare, and utilities. Everything is going up except wages. We have no mandated paid sick leave or parental leave. We have no benefits, shoddy labor protections, and no chance for advancement as more and more companies move to the gig model of employment. Your political activism cannot by limited to only election day: we must make our voices heard every single day. Our cries for justice should be like a constant ringing in the ears of our elected officials, lest they forget why we elected them.

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About the Contributor
Sebastian Cabeza
Sebastian Cabeza, Staff Writer
Sebastian Cabeza is a senior entering his first year on staff as a writer for the News department. In his free time, he enjoys playing guitar, painting, and listening to Ken Carson. Contact him at [email protected].

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