The GOP scheme for autocracy

Opinion: Trump isn’t the only menace in today’s Republican party


Donald Trump may be the first mainstream presidential candidate who is openly anti-democratic. Does he want to replace July 4 with Jan. 6 as our national patriotic holiday?  He says his opponents on the left are subhuman “vermin” who must be “rooted out.” He jokes about the hammer attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband. He claims (against overwhelming evidence) that he was the victim of monumental fraud in the 2020 election which can be made right by “the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution.” 

After the inevitable backlash, he yelps “fake news” or claims he was quoted out of context. He said he would be a dictator, but only on his first day. His enablers claim he’s just joking. 

He isn’t. But Trump isn’t a policy guy. He has a big far right brain trust behind him.

In 2022, Project 2025 was launched by the Heritage Foundation think tank in collaboration with over 80 other far-right groups. It is a government-in-waiting for the next Republican president. Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen of Axios report that it is  “undeniably a Trump-driven operation” run by fervent loyalists. Heritage also briefed the campaigns of Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley.

Earlier this year, Heritage published a 920-page manifesto called “Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise” which provides a detailed agenda. Heritage boasts that it provided Ronald Reagan with a similar document with the same title in 1980, and the majority of those proposals were adopted. A subsequent edition has been produced for every presidential election since 1980. 

The report advocates privatizing government functions and deregulating industries. Heritage  says, “the Biden administration’s climate fanaticism will need a whole-of-government unwinding.” The Inflation Reduction Act’s clean-energy tax credits will be repealed. Climate deniers will be appointed at agencies. 

The report says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health were “the duo most responsible — along with President Joe Biden — for the irrational, destructive, un-American mask and vaccine mandates that were imposed upon an ostensibly free people.”  Heritage recommends that the CDC should have  “severely confined ability to make policy recommendations.”  

The project is recruiting tens of thousands of rightwingers to replace non-partisan federal civil service workers. Trump’s allies are pre-screening their ideologies. This would be an updated version of the 19th century spoils and patronage system that existed under President Andrew Jackson, where government jobs were handed out to a winning political party’s supporters, friends and relatives. 

This has quite sinister implications for law enforcement. They plan to transform the Department of Justice (DOJ), the FBI and the intelligence agencies. The Washington Post reports that Trump plans to invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807 to deploy the military for domestic law enforcement on the first day of his presidency. 

Michael Bromwich, a former Justice Department inspector general, remarks, “The plans being developed by members of Trump’s cult to turn the DOJ and FBI into instruments of his revenge should send shivers down the spine of anyone who cares about the rule of law.”

Timothy Naftali, a senior research scholar at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, says Trump’s team is “ trying to find (government) lawyers who believe in dictatorship. … This appears to be a casting call for an American political horror movie.”

David Corn, Mother Jones’ Washington D.C. bureau chief, speculates:

“Trump has already vowed to pardon the January 6 assaulters if he returns to the White House — which would reward and validate violent insurrectionists, domestic terrorists and seditionists. Now suppose Trump’s supporters — in large or small numbers — mounted new acts of political violence. Under the proposals advocated by Project 2025, Jeffrey Clark and others, Trump could order the Justice Department not to investigate or prosecute these criminals. He could protect the brownshirts who engage in violence against his opponents. Similarly, Trump could do the same in cases of election interference or voter suppression. He could instruct the FBI to not probe the shady business dealings of his cronies or allies — or those of his family or his own enterprises. He and his favorites would have free rein across the board to break the law or to assist those who do. (See Vladimir Putin.)” 

It’s urgent that we build a pro-democracy movement to fight the growing fascist menace. 

This opinion does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly.

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