Editorials, Opinion

Project 2025: A plan to destroy democracy

“Led by the long-established Heritage Foundation think tank and fueled by former Trump administration officials, the far-reaching effort is essentially a government-in-waiting for the former president’s return — or any candidate who aligns with their ideals and can defeat President Joe Biden in 2024.

“With a nearly 1,000-page ‘Project 2025’ handbook and an ‘army’ of Americans, the idea is to have the civic infrastructure in place on Day One … to gut the ‘administrative state’ from within, by ousting federal employees they [Trump-era Republicans] believe are standing in the way of the president’s agenda and replacing them with like-minded officials more eager to fulfill a new executive’s approach to governing. …

“The goal is to avoid the pitfalls of Trump’s first years in office, when … policies were met with resistance — by lawmakers, government workers and even Trump’s own appointees who refused to bend or break protocol, or in some cases violate laws, to achieve his goals.”

The above are snippets from the Associated Press article “Conservative groups draw up plan to dismantle the U.S. government and replace it with Trump’s vision.” It’s not an opinion piece; it’s a news article written by the AP’s chief congressional correspondent, Lisa Mascaro. If it still seems like this should be satire, all you have to do is google “Project 2025” and you can read all about the very real plan on the Heritage Foundation’s website.

Civil service positions are designed the way they are so that only a fraction turn over with each administration; the rest can go about the daily business of keeping the country moving. Project 2025 wants to re-instate the Trump-era Schedule F, making all civil servants “at-will” employees who can be dismissed at any time, for any reason. The Heritage Foundation has led the effort to recruit far-right conservative citizens who would happily step into those newly vacated positions.

These extreme conservative organizations are proudly and brazenly laying out their plan to infiltrate the government and replace rational, moderate civil servants with extreme conservatives whose loyalty is to far-right ideology, not to the Constitution or rule of law.

This, dear readers, is exactly how democratic republics crumble into authoritarian regimes. This is how a “president” becomes an elected dictator.

The strongman and his allies strip away workplace protections in federal agencies so they can replace anyone whose loyalty is to the country and its systems with cronies and sycophants whose allegiance is solely to the political party and its leadership.

They remove press access to government spaces to keep the public blind, deaf and dumb.

They get around checks and balances by exploiting loopholes, such as sidestepping Senate confirmations by appointing allies in “acting” administrative roles.

And when they have seized enough levers of power, they start imposing their will on the whole country, because they have successfully removed almost all the barriers to their complete authority.

This is the future the conservative organizations behind Project 2025 envision for America. And while it seems they would prefer Trump at the helm, it seems they’ll settle for any culture war extremist.

If the thought of this doesn’t terrify you, imagine it’s the political party or the political leader you like the least at the forefront of this movement. Imagine it’s the party or politician most opposed to your values that has suddenly destroyed the federal bureaucracy, filling it only with yes-men who will do whatever they’re told, even if doing so breaks the law or violates the Constitution.

Are you horrified now?