Republicans know Americans despise Project 2025. They don’t care

By Dartagnan | 10 July 2024
Daily Kos

(Credit: YouTube / screengrab)

More than 100 conservative organizations that back the Republican Party created Project 2025, the 920-page right-wing manifesto for governance in a renewed Donald Trump administration that (incredibly) went completely unmentioned in the recent presidential debate, because they know their policies are deeply unpopular with the American public. These are policies that, for the most part, cannot be realized through elections or through legislation—because the American people don’t want them.

There is simply no electoral outcry for massive tax cuts for the wealthy at the expense of all other taxpayers. There is no constituency for rolling back environmental, civil rights, and labor protections. There is no widespread demand to transform women and others into second-class citizens whose reproductive destinies are ruled by religious edicts from unelected political appointees. Nor is there any demand by Americans for militant, Christian nationalism in our justice system or public schools, or a politicized FBI and Justice Department meting out “retribution” against Trump’s political opponents.

The American people, by and large, don’t want any of this. That’s why the more they actually learn about Project 2025’s actual policy goals, the more they reject them.

The GOP has learned by now that it cannot implement these policies through traditional, democratic means. They’ve tried suppressing the votes of Democratic constituencies. They’ve tried distracting their own voters with contrived non-issues to inflame fears and prejudices so they vote not for their own economic interests, but rather for the interests of the billionaire and corporate Republican donor base. But those strategies have gradually run up against an increasingly daunting demographic wall that shows no real sign of collapsing.

With every electoral defeat from 2018 onward, the GOP has had a choice: either moderate its noxious positions in conformance with public opinion or double down. They’ve consistently doubled down, which is why this country now faces Project 2025, a blueprint for an incipient fascist regime allowing an emboldened Trump to impose these policies on Americans against their will.

The editors at The New Republic, much like their colleagues at The Atlantic did six months ago, have published a series of articles written by some of the country’s leading historians and experts on fascism in order to alert the American population of what this country will look like should Trump be afforded another term in the Oval Office.

From the The New Republic’s X feed (formerly Twitter):

There are eight articles in the series titled “What American Fascism Would Look Like,” each addressing the terrifying prospect of a second Trump term and its possible consequences. But it’s important to keep one thing in mind: None of these drastic outcomes would be possible if the Republican Party had any legitimate claim to serving the interests of the American people.

Instead, their plans are intended to be imposed largely in secret, behind the closed doors of Trump’s vetted and politicized federal agencies, far away from the public halls of Congress. The GOP intends to exert its unpopular policies through arbitrary, state-sanctioned fiat (and if necessary, brute force) by cloaking the tools of government in a perverted mantle of Christian nationalism and white supremacy.

As historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat, author of one of those articles titled “The Permanent Counterrevolution” explains, Project 2025 draws upon the same rhetorical methods and framing employed by Benito Mussolini in the 1920s and ‘30s to consolidate power over Italy. As she observes, “Trumpism is what fascism looks like in twenty-first-century America.”

As Ben-Ghiat writes:

During his 21 years in power, 18 of them as dictator, Il Duce framed fascism as a revolution of reaction against the left, against liberal democracy, and against any group that threatened the survival of white Christian civilization. Carrying out a violent destabilization of society in the name of a return to social order and national tradition, fascism pioneered the autocratic formula in use today of disenfranchising and repressing the many to allow the few to exploit the workforce, women’s bodies, the environment, and the economy.

Trump’s strategy from the start was to build on the racial animus that had fostered so-called “rural rage,” an insecurity borne of ignorance and intolerance that the media sugarcoated as  “economic anxiety” during the early years of Trump’s presidency. It was far less about anxiety than it was about pure racism and baseless resentments, but that was the prevailing narrative seized upon by the media, because it created a class of plausible victims to be coddled and reckoned with. Once in power, however, Trump did nothing whatsoever to alleviate the economic stress of this reactionary voting base. Instead, he put on a never-ending roadshow of provocative racism and misogyny, inspiring many of his followers to act out accordingly, as Ben-Ghiat observes.

It continued as an authoritarian presidency envisioned as “a shock to the system” that unleashed waves of hate crimes against nonwhites and non-Christians. It culminated in the January 6 assault on the Capitol, which was a counterrevolutionary operation in the spirit of fascism. Its goal in deploying violence was not just to keep Donald Trump in office, but to prevent the representatives of social and racial progress from taking power.

But in a democratic system, erasing ”social and racial progress” necessitates electing enough people to impose their reactionary views on the public. It’s a task that Republicans have found quite difficult, because those views don’t sit well with the majority of Americans. Hence, the need for Project 2025.

As its introduction clearly states:

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.

It’s “not enough for conservatives to win elections” because they can’t win elections based on these policy goals. The American people don’t want them. The aim of Project 2025, then, is to shove these policies down Americans’ throats—whether they want them or not.

As Ben-Ghiat notes, the often-overlooked racist element motivating the Jan. 6 assault helps to clarify the cliff the GOP is now prepared to take us over with Project 2025. It was not simply an assault on government, but the idea of an inclusive and socially progressive government that the Jan. 6 attackers found so unappealing. Project 2025 sets out to institutionalize these same grievances—stamping out civil rights protections for nonwhite people and women, for example—in our government structure. By eliminating those federal agencies seen as preserving racial and sexual equity (such as the Department of Education) and by co-opting others in the service of Christian nationalism and white male fever dreams, the Republican Party’s ultimate goal is to eliminate and reverse all social progress made by and protections for anyone who isn’t white, heterosexual, and male.

Under Project 2025, as Ben-Ghiat notes, the Department of Health and Human Services “is poised to have a central role in governance, given the priorities Trumpism places on policing sexuality, weaponizing motherhood, persecuting transgender people and LGBTQ communities, and criminalizing abortion.” Radically redefining the mission of the Justice Department to enforce civil rights “protections” for hard-right Christians “furthers the Trumpist goal of delegitimizing the cause of racial equality while also making Christian nationalism a core value of domestic policy.”

When the Department of Justice declines to enforce anti-bias and anti-discrimination laws against women and people of color or LGBTQ+ individuals—which the organizers of Project 2025 are clearly contemplating—that brings us in line with Mussolini’s brand of fascism.

But no fascist regime can survive without public demonstrations of its power, and this is where Project 2025 invokes the most sinister aspects of “classic” fascism. Its plan to politicize the Justice Department and FBI is the necessary prerequisite to the arrest and imprisonment of Trump’s political enemies, and ultimately to putting down public protests through use of the military. As Ben-Ghiat notes, after a Trump inauguration we can “expect prompt and showy announcements of trials and investigations of the political opposition, members of the January 6 Select Committee, and anyone who sought to hold him accountable.” Several Republicans in Congress have already signed on to their acceptance of this type of performative McCarthyism.

As Ben-Ghiat notes, those willing to wade through the noxious, inflammatory screed of Project 2025 will notice it repeatedly conveys a sense of desperate urgency, as if the country were coming apart at the seams.

Project 2025 takes an openly autocratic stance in asserting an “existential need for aggressive use of the vast powers of the executive branch” in America, as though the nation would fail if the democratic system, which is built on checks to presidential authority, were to continue.

But this sense of urgency that Project 2025 seeks to whip up is fake. The nation is not on the brink of disaster because of some seismic sociocultural shift. In the past decade, American society has acknowledged the widespread brutality and systemic racism of law enforcement toward people of color; it has acknowledged the right of non-cisgender individuals to be free from discrimination; and it has acknowledged the legality of same-sex marriage. Put bluntly, none of this has harmed the country. If anything, with a corrupt, conservative Supreme Court majority asserting its power over reproductive autonomy and voting rights and with the demonization and attacks on racial minority groups fostered by the efforts of Donald Trump, it is the political right that is actively harming American citizens. The only urgency they face is the fact that they can’t do anything about it legislatively through the democratic process.

So that urgency is a fig leaf to cover the true intent of Project 2025: to satisfy various Republican constituencies—mainly religious right and white nationalist groups— in the ultimate service of cutting taxes and regulations on billionaires and corporations, all at the expense of a helpless American public. Project 2025 simply seeks to bypass the political voice of the American people to satisfy the right’s most cherished but otherwise unrealizable goals.

The days when a divided American electorate could prompt the leaders of the Republican Party to consider an electoral victory, no matter how tenuous or otherwise questionable, as anything less than a mandate for trying to inflict its policies upon an American population that does not want them are a distant memory. But until Donald Trump came along there had never been a Republican Party so excited by the prospect of exercising absolute, dictatorial powers to impose its agenda on the rest of us.

This is now a fascist party that’s all-in on autocracy, a nihilistic cult of personality committed to imposing a harsh right-wing agenda on all Americans through its slavish fealty to and imitation of one single man. The GOP’s fanaticism and cruelty brooks no accommodation, no compromise, no attempt to seek common ground whatsoever. Most ominously, it is now apparently comfortable advertising that fact.

But Americans should clearly understand that this is what their vote actually means in November.

Project 2025: a blueprint for a conservative takeover | The Take

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