Project 2025 a threat to democracy

by Steve Corbin

There are a multitude of issues that voters must assess when deciding between President Joe Biden, former President Donald Trump and the independent presidential candidates before casting their ballots in the fall. Logically, the importance of each issue differs between and among America’s 161.4 million registered voters.

One rundown of the issues, produced by NBC News, ranges from abortion to affordable housing to foreign relations to climate change to election integrity to immigration to education. But one issue missing from that report has become a focal point of the Biden camp, MAGA Republicans and third-party candidates: democracy vs. authoritarianism.

Specifically, at noon Eastern on Monday, Jan. 20, 2025, will the duly elected and inaugurated president of the United States keep America as a democracy that dates back to the 1630s or will the commander-in-chief start changing the country to authoritarian-fascism?

If you’ve not heard of Project 2025, it’s very worthy of your independent investigation. Project 2025 is a playbook specifically created for Donald Trump and his minions to use in the first 180 days of Trump’s second presidential administration. The far-right Heritage Foundation proudly takes credit for facilitating the creation of the 887-page document, which if implemented would turn our democracy into an authoritarian country.

Project 2025’s two editors had assistance from 34 authors, 277 contributors, a 54-member advisory board and a coalition of over 100 conservative organizations (including ALEC, The Heartland Institute, Liberty University, Middle East Forum, Moms for Liberty, the NRA, Pro-Life America and the Tea Party Patriots).

It is a serious endeavor — if Trump returns to the White House — to make America a fascist country. After all, on May 20, Trump posted a video on his Truth Social media account depicting his next administration as a ” Unified Reich.” (Hitler’s Third Reich occurred in 1933-1945.)

On Project 2025’s website you can check out the disconcerting manuscript that tells Trump what specifically to do from Jan. 20 to July 18, 2025, to convert America into an authoritarian regime.

The 30 chapters are a daunting read. Project 2025 proposes, among a host of things, eliminating the Department of Education, eliminating the Department of Commerce, deploying the U.S. military whenever protests erupt, dismantling the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, removing protections against sexual and gender discrimination, and terminating diversity, equity, inclusion and affirmative action.

Additional mandates include: siphoning off billions of public school funding, funding private school choice vouchers, phasing out public education’s Title 1 program, gutting the nation’s free school meals program, eliminating the Head Start program, banning books and suppressing any curriculum that discusses the evils of slavery.

Project 2025 also calls for banning abortion (which makes women second-class citizens), restricting access to contraception, forcing would-be immigrants to be detained in concentration camps, eliminating Title VII and Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, recruiting 54,000 loyal MAGA Republicans to replace existing federal civil servants, and ending America’s bedrock principle that separates church from state.

A Feb. 20 article in Politico described Project 2025 as an authoritarian Christian nationalist movement and a path for the United States to become an autocracy. Several legal experts have indicated implementing the 180-day manual would undermine the rule of law and the separation of powers.

Seriously consider reading one research-based book per month for the next five months as pre-election homework so you’ll know what authoritarianism looks like. Here’s my suggested reading list:

  • June: “On Tyranny: Twenty lessons from the 20th century,” Timothy Snyder, 2017; a quick read and No. 1 New York Times best seller.
  • July: “Twilight of Democracy: The seductive lure of authoritarianism,” Anne Applebaum, 2020; chapters IV, V and VI get to the bottom line.
  • August: “Democracy Awakening: Notes on the state of America,” Heather Cox Richardson, 2023; 319 reference sources — a credible and informative book.
  • September: “Attack from within: How disinformation is sabotaging America,” Barbara McQuade, 2024; the 1,717 reference citations proves this is well researched and an “honest” read.
  • October: “1984,” George Orwell, 1949; Orwell’s novel shows Americans what life would be like under totalitarian and oppressive rule.

Reading even just one of these books will enable you to discern candidate- and party-based disinformation, misinformation and propaganda from truth. You’ll be ready to vote on Nov. 5 and keep America a democracy.

Steve Corbin is professor emeritus of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa.