Project 2025 Flag Pin, lapel
Photo credit: Illustration by DonkeyHotey for WhoWhatWhy from EgorovaSvetlana / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED), Joseph Reed / Wikimedia (PD), and Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED)

The real action in Milwaukee will be in the back room where Trump is told who’s going to be his vice president.

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In less than a month, Republicans will meet in Milwaukee to crown Donald Trump as their Emperor King and Sun God. But the real powers behind the GOP — the billionaires and their institutions that created Project 2025 as a how-to manual to convert American democracy into something like the old Confederacy — don’t much care about poor old Donald.

Sure, they want him to be the nominee because NBC trained him well in the dark art of playing a successful businessman on television. He brings in the rubes like nobody since Huey Long; he’s a singularly brilliant politician, much as Putin, Hitler, Orbán, and Mussolini are and were.

But he can also be irrational, impulsive, disloyal, dishonest, and unpredictable — qualities that make the men who want to revive the Confederacy to replace our republican form of government wary. They have big plans — far bigger than Trump’s tiny dream of vengeance — and don’t want him screwing things up.

Thus, the real action in Milwaukee won’t be the show — though it’ll be a hell of a show — around Trump’s coronation; it’ll be in the back rooms where Trump is told who’s going to be his vice president. That’ll be the guy (it will be a guy) who does the actual heavy lifting in “deconstructing the administrative state,” seizing control of our media, and stripping average Americans of what’s left of their wealth and rights.

It’ll almost certainly work much like it did with the contestants on The Apprentice: NBC’s writers and producers would figure out who’d make the best winner, who’d draw the best audience “in the demo,” who would get the most PR for the show, and then Trump would pretend the choice was his. After all, he did exactly that for 14 television seasons over more than 300 episodes; he knows the routine well.

Trump is elderly, obese, and self-absorbed. He’s a heart attack waiting to happen, his cognitive capabilities are clearly slipping, and he’s incapable of seeing any issue in any context other than “What’s in it for Donald?” They had to draw him pictures when they did intelligence briefings in the White House.

But the Project 2025 folks and their Steve Bannon fellow travelers, in their effort to tear down America and make our country safe(er) for morbidly rich oligarchs, have big plans, including:  

— Placing the entire federal bureaucracy, including independent agencies like the Department of Justice, under direct presidential control through an extreme interpretation of the “unitary executive theory,” thus turning the federal police system into an enforcement mechanism against dissenters.
Eliminating job protections for thousands of federal civil servants, allowing for their replacement by political appointees loyal to the administration, reversing the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of 1883 and returning America to the corrupt spoils system.
— Dismantling the Department of Education and transferring or terminating its programs, speeding up the GOP’s ongoing project of ending public schools (with their unionized teachers) and replacing them with private, segregated, often-religious academies for the white upper middle class.
Slashing funding for the Department of Justice and dismantling the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (which will probably be replaced by a new Schutzstaffel-style police force answerable directly to the president, as Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott have already done in Florida and Texas).
— Abolishing the Federal Reserve and potentially returning to a gold-backed currency, transferring power over the nation’s economy from the Fed’s technocrats into the hands of the wealthiest men in America.
Criminalizing pornography, abortion, mifepristone, and most forms of birth control, placing women under the direct control of the state.
— Removing legal protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, returning us to the days when queer people were routinely harassed and murdered.
Terminating all diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs and affirmative action initiatives across the federal government, locking into place the white racial hierarchy that currently controls most wealth and power in the USA.
— Cutting funding for renewable energy research and climate change initiatives while boosting fossil fuel production so the fossil fuel barons who largely own the GOP can make more billions.
Imposing work requirements for recipients of food stamps (SNAP) and other welfare programs as the first step toward ending all welfare programs that are funded by rich people’s taxpayer dollars.
— Extending Trump’s 2017 tax cuts, which would add $4 trillion to the deficit over 10 years according to estimates, so billionaires can continue to only pay a 3.4 percent income tax.
Requiring a three-fifths supermajority in Congress to raise individual or corporate income taxes, making future tax increases on the morbidly rich almost impossible.
— Infusing the government with elements of Christianity, rejecting our nation’s Founders’ vision of America as the world’s first secular democratic republic.
Eliminating terms like “sexual orientation,” “gender equality,” and “reproductive right” from all federal laws and regulations.
— Appointing more extremist federal judges who would overturn landmark Supreme Court decisions like Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, and Griswold v. Connecticut, which legalized birth control.
Restricting voting rights by pushing for strict voter ID laws, limiting mail-in and early voting, and criminalizing voter registration drives, as DeSantis has done in Florida.
— Defunding or abolishing agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) so America’s consumers and citizens stand naked before the predation of and poisoning by massive corporations.
Limiting legal immigration levels and making it harder to obtain citizenship or permanent residency to keep white people as the majority in this country as long as possible.
— Allowing public businesses and services to deny service based on “religious objections” to racial and religious minorities and the queer community.
Promoting “patriotic education” that celebrates America’s Christian heritage and the GOP, while downplaying issues like slavery and the Native American genocide.
— Expanding mandatory minimum sentencing and reversing criminal justice reform efforts around reducing mass incarceration so anybody who challenges them can be tucked away in a profitable private prison.
Revoking federal protections for national parks and monuments while opening those and other public lands to drilling, mining, and development.
— Allowing states to impose work requirements and time limits on Medicaid coverage — including for children, pregnant women, elderly, and disabled beneficiaries who are currently exempt — as the first step toward ending Medicaid altogether.
Permitting states to eliminate mandatory benefits like nursing home care and children’s health screenings (EPSDT) from their Medicaid programs.
— Encouraging more restrictive asset tests that could terminate Medicaid eligibility altogether for low-income families with modest savings.
Converting Medicaid to a capped block grant or per capita cap system that would significantly reduce federal funding over time until the program is strangled to death.
— Establishing a voucher system to allow Medicaid beneficiaries to purchase private insurance instead, despite less affordability and benefits, as a precursor to ending the program altogether.
Cutting funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and restructuring it along “conservative principles.”
— Revoking the federal government’s ability to enforce anti-discrimination protections in areas like housing, employment, and education.

And that’s just a partial list.

To accomplish a major task like this is going to require a person who’s smart, well-educated, disciplined, wealthy, and utterly without scruples or a moral compass. In other words, J.D. Vance (or somebody very much like him: Tom Cotton, Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, Elise Stefanik).

Trump should be watching his back right now.

It’s a safe bet that the minute he begins to stray from the oligarchs’ agenda, his Cabinet will get together and pull a 25th Amendment on him, as was so frequently discussed by members of his Cabinet during his first term as president.

Or, in true mob fashion, they’ll just sit him down and tell him that he can have a fine fun time playing president, but somebody else is going to take care of the actual business side of the operation.

And odds are he’ll never see it coming.

Reprinted from The Hartmann Report with the author’s permission.

Thom Hartmann is a four-time Project Censored-award-winning, New York Times best-selling author of 34 books in print and the #1 progressive talk show host in America for more than a decade.


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