Trump's Project 47
Photo credit: Aaron Burden / Wikimedia (CC0 1.0 DEED)

If you thought it can’t happen here, I have an old Sinclair Lewis book to share with you…

Listen To This Story
Voiced by Amazon Polly

If Donald Trump is reelected, he’d be America’s 47th president, so he’s named the plans for his second term “Project 47.” 

At best, it’s a dystopian nightmare; at worst it means ending our current system of American government, aligning the US with Russia and other autocratic nations, and the USA leading the charge against democracy and in favor of authoritarian, strong-man forms of government across the world.

Over at his website, Trump lays out the details of his governing agenda, complete with short videos promoting each of the steps he plans to take. They, and his many statements about future plans, include:

Criminalizing Homosexuality

Part of Agenda 47, Trump says, is “finishing the job” he started as president between 2017 and 2021.

Just two hours after he and Pence were sworn into office, they removed all mention of LGBTQ+ issues from the White House website.

Two days later, his State Department deleted former Secretary of State John Kerry’s apology to the nation for the “Lavender Scare” government persecution of gays and lesbians during the McCarthy era 1950s and early 1960s. A month later, Trump’s Justice Department announced they’d no longer defend the civil rights of trans kids.

His Education and HUD offices both withdrew their court defenses of queer people, particularly students and those in homeless shelters, and his secretary of state refused to mention to the Russian foreign minister the detention and brutal executions of gay men by Russian soldiers in Chechnya. On May 4, 2017, Trump signed an executive order letting the DOJ ignore claims of illegal discrimination against queer people and women throughout every single one of the nation’s federal agencies.

In September 2017, Trump’s secretary of education, billionaire Betsy DeVos, officially ended that agency’s Title IX guidance requiring schools to do something about sexual harassment, including sexual violence, against women and LGBTQ+ kids. In response to a question from the media about the change in policy and gay men, Trump said that his vice president “wants to hang them all.”

In January of 2018, Trump rolled out the “Division of Conscience and Religious Freedom” at the Department of Health and Human Services, which would backstop people who wanted to use the excuse of “deeply held religious beliefs” to justify explicit discrimination against queer people and women, or to simply to make life difficult for government agencies.

All of this is just the beginning. The Human Rights Campaign has documented page after page of anti-queer policies put into effect by Trump that will be resurrected and put on steroids in a second term.

Destroying Academic Freedom and Gutting Our Public Schools

In the Agenda 47 section of his website, Trump explains how he’s going to use our schools and colleges to indoctrinate young Americans in right-wing ideology. He explicitly says:

When I return to the White House, I will fire the radical Left accreditors that have allowed our colleges to become dominated by Marxist Maniacs and lunatics. We will then accept applications for new accreditors who will impose real standards on colleges once again and once and for all.

[Any colleges that continue to teach] under the guise of [racial] equity will not only have their endowment taxed, but through budget reconciliation, I will advance a measure to have them fined up to the entire amount of their endowment.

In other words, just like Viktor Orbán did in Hungary and Putin did in Russia, he’s going to bankrupt the nation’s schools and colleges if they continue to teach the true history of America and promote egalitarian values. As Trump notes at his website: 

[W]e are going to get this anti-American insanity out of our institutions once and for all.

Blowing Up Federal Agencies That Regulate and Protect

Then comes gutting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the IRS, the Labor Department, and other federal agencies that keep our air clean, our water pure, and protect average Americans from predation by the morbidly rich and their corporations

Back in the 1970s, Richard Nixon said he was going to use “impoundment” to strip funding from agencies his donors didn’t like, claiming that, even though Congress had appropriated budgets for them, he could, as head of the executive branch, simply “impound” the money and refuse to spend it. His plan to remake the federal government was interrupted by Watergate.

In 1974, Democrats in Congress got together and passed legislation outlawing this and President Gerald Ford signed it into law. But Trump’s lawyers apparently think they can get it overturned through their appointees on the courts or even, if they can take both branches of Congress, through new legislation. As Trump says on his website:

I will use the president’s long-recognized Impoundment Power to squeeze the bloated federal bureaucracy for massive savings.

Since the fossil fuel companies, banks, refineries, anti-union big employers, and their billionaires who fund the GOP hate all of these agencies, it’ll be a bonanza for them.

Not so much for working people, retirees, and those of us concerned about a livable future environment for our kids and grandkids, though.

Destroying the Media and the Truth

First, Trump wants to make it illegal for the federal government’s security services to notify social media platforms about Russian disinformation and other foreign efforts to swing elections, since nearly 100 percent of those efforts are coming from authoritarian countries in support of Trump and against democracy.

“I will ban federal money from being used to label domestic speech as “mis-” or “dis-information,” Trump proclaims on his Agenda 47 website.

He also wants to force social media to carry his buddy Putin’s trolls’ lies and attempts to pit Americans against each other, and limit the companies’ ability to label or block lies and propaganda. As Trump puts it:

I will ask Congress to send a bill to my desk revising Section 230 to get big online platforms out of censorship business.

In Hungary, one way Viktor Orbán got rid of actual news media and replaced the ownership of all the nation’s major radio and TV networks, websites, and newspapers was by changing the libel laws so that public figures (like Orbán himself) could sue for libel when they thought they were treated unfairly.

They then sued company after company, commentator after commentator, reporter after reporter, into bankruptcy.

Orbán’s right-wing buddies could buy the media properties out of bankruptcy, which is why now virtually all the media in Hungary is like Fox “News,” broadcasting suck-ups to Orbán and criticism of “liberals,” immigrants, and gays 24/7.

Trump wants to do the same here in the US.

When Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury came out with some unflattering characterizations of Trump in it, the then-president said:

We are going to take a strong look at our country’s libel laws so that when somebody says something that is false and defamatory about someone, that person will have meaningful recourse in our courts. And if somebody says something that’s totally false and knowingly false, that the person that has been abused, defamed, libeled, will have meaningful recourse.

Simply reporting on what Trump’s up to could bring lawsuits that would bankrupt even the Times or the Post, and, as in Hungary and Russia, pretty much end the existence of a free and independent press in America.

Turning America Into a Vigilante Police State

Trump has promised to pardon the January 6 insurrectionists who tried to murder the vice president and speaker of the House (and whose actions led to the deaths of four police officers), and put into place a national “stop and frisk” law that upends the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

It would also — like Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, who executed over 10,000 people during his reign of terror — authorize the federal government to immediately execute anybody convicted of trafficking in drugs without further due process or appeals.

Republicans in Texas have already pioneered using vigilantes to hunt down women who’ve had abortions and the people who’ve helped them. Expect these vigilante-enforced laws to spread across the country with a second Trump administration, with groups like the Proud Boys and Three Percenters becoming the modern-day equivalent of the old west’s 19th century bounty hunters.

In a flashback to Hitler’s “work camps,” which preceded the death camps by five years, Trump has also proposed building concentration camps around the country to house “millions” of undocumented aliens and his political enemies. As he noted in a speech on Veterans’ Day this year:

We pledge to you that we will root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country that lie and steal and cheat on elections.

Adding that Russia isn’t a problem, he concluded:

The threat from outside forces is far less sinister, dangerous, and grave than the threat from within. Our threat is from within.”

Presumably that means people like me and you, who would oppose his fascist agenda.

Corrupting the Federal Government

Way back in 1881, a man named Charles Guiteau thought he’d properly bribed President James Garfield by giving the president, during an in-person visit in the White House, a speech he’d written for Garfield to use. Garfield was polite but didn’t offer Guiteau a federal speechwriter’s  job, which provoked a murderous rage: Shortly thereafter, Guiteau met Garfield’s train and shot him twice, killing him.

The explicit and institutionalized practice of exchanging gifts and personal loyalty for federal jobs dated back to the presidency of Andrew Jackson (1829-1837), arguably the second-most depraved president in American history behind Trump (which is probably why Trump hung his picture in the Oval Office; Jackson’s favorite nickname for himself — given him by the Cherokee he slaughtered — was “The Indian Killer”).

Jackson had elevated the practice of bribing the president — himself, at the time — to get federal jobs into an art-form: it was called the “spoils” or patronage system and was insanely corrupt. It was also, by Garfield’s presidency in 1881, routine.

After Guiteau failed to gain his “spoil” or “patronage” from Garfield and killed him, President Chester Arthur oversaw the writing and passage of the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of 1883.

It separated all those government jobs from the administration in power, turning federal workers from patrons of the president into permanent bureaucrats, whose first loyalty was to the nation instead of to the guy who happened to be in the White House at any particular time.

It also explicitly outlawed bribing the president for a job. The goal, which it accomplished and which has held for 140 years, was to end corruption in the bureaucratic branches of the federal government.

Donald Trump wants to functionally end the civil service system and replace the top levels of the nation’s 2.7 million federal workers with people loyal exclusively to himself.

He tried to do this in the last months of his presidency through an October 21, 2020, executive order, Schedule F, (which Biden reversed on his first day in office) that reclassified those workers out of their civil service jobs and into political appointee positions, doing the same work but now entirely dependent on the good will of the president to keep their jobs.

The next Republican administration will almost certainly put Schedule F back into force, reestablishing the 1829 spoils system for the federal government, and ending any possibility that people in the government will push back against Trump the way they did during his first presidency.

Making the Nation’s Police Into Trump’s Private Enforcers

The Department of Justice was established by President Ulysses S. Grant after the Civil War, in part to enforce federal laws protecting the rights of people who’d recently been freed from slavery.

After Richard Nixon tried to use it against his enemies (and his attorney general, John Mitchell, went to prison for his efforts), Congress in 1978 passed the Ethics in Government Act, which put a wall of separation between the DOJ and the White House.

Trump has explicitly proclaimed his intention to tear that wall down and go farther than Nixon ever imagined in using our armed investigative services for personal revenge and harassment of people he perceives as his enemies.

He wants the nation’s premiere police agencies to become his own personal enforcers, and has already said they will be hunting down “liberals,” Black Lives Matter protest participants, and Joe Biden, his family, and members of his administration.

He wants to imprison them, as well as the prosecutors and judges who have been participating in the effort to hold him to account for the crimes he committed over the past seven years.

This politicization of law enforcement has been a first-order and primary feature of every authoritarian or totalitarian regime that’s risen to power over the past few hundred years, worldwide. It’s always one of the first things fascist leaders do when they seize power.

‘Freedom Cities’

In an apparent attempt to portray himself as a visionary like JFK, with his promise to send men to the moon and bring them back safely, Trump is promising to build “freedom cities” in his second term. The main feature he’s discussed is that people will get around in them in “flying cars.”

While it’s being portrayed as a goofy stunt designed to make him seem like an imaginative idealist, in fact there has been a movement among right-wing billionaires for some time to create cities that they basically run as little feudal fiefdoms, the same way the morbidly rich run their companies and their football teams.

Some libertarian billionaires assert that the only reason there’s never been a successful libertarian nation in the history of the world is that true libertarianism — government doing nothing but running the police, army, and courts, with everything else left to private charity and business owners — “has never been tried.”

The “freedom cities” could be a new libertarian experiment, or they may be the 21st century version of the old “company town,” where nobody has rights or protection of the law, but is subject to the whims of the local billionaire owner. A group backed by Silicon Valley billionaires has already put forward what appears to be a plan to build a new city in California that they may or may not envision running along these lines. The group has so far purchased more than 53,000 acres of land, an area larger than the entire city of Beaumont, TX, or Sioux Falls, SD.

Ending Democracy Across Europe and the World

Trump is also promising that he’ll end the brutal attacks against Ukraine on “day one” by simply turning the country over to his good friend Vladimir Putin.

For the first time since World War II, this would legitimize a nation attacking another nation simply to seize their land, resources, and people.

It would greenlight China to do the same with Taiwan, and encourage every other tinpot dictator in the world to grab nearby territory that he wants. It would encourage war, and could very easily lead to a world war.

Abandoning Ukraine like this, along with Trump’s oft-stated preference to leave or end NATO and stop support for the UN, would lead the autocracies of the world — particularly Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and North Korea — to destroy the democracies in their spheres of influence, replacing those democracies with strongman autocracies.

The democratic experiment on this planet is only 250 years old, more or less, and this would signal a return to the way the world had been ruled for the 7,000 years prior to that: by kings, popes, mullahs, strongman warlords, and the morbidly rich.

Between Agenda 47 and Project 2025, Donald Trump and the right-wing billionaires who own the GOP have big plans for this nation, regardless of which Republican takes the White House next. They’re dead serious and far better funded than any of the groups that fight for and advocate democracy.

If you thought it can’t happen here, I have an old Sinclair Lewis book to share with you.

Triple check your voter registration, especially if you live in a red state where the voter purges have already begun, and make sure everybody you know is registered to vote.

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.


Comments are closed.