What Is Project 2025 And Why Is It So Dangerous?
Project 2025 is an authoritarian plot to replace tens of thousands of federal workers with GOP loyalists, dismantle federal agencies, and turn the federal government into a tool of the far-right.
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You may have heard of Project 2025. Everyone is talking about it, and for good reason. If this is your first time hearing about it, brace yourself.
Project 2025 is a comprehensive roadmap that seeks to fundamentally twist the federal government into the far-right’s image if a Republican president takes office on January 20, 2025.
To put it more simply, it’s an authoritarian manifesto. But it’s not merely a list of stated ideals—it’s a detailed strategic playbook outlining exactly how to destroy the federal government as we know it. That’s not hyperbole.
At its core, Project 2025 instructs a future GOP president to fire tens of thousands of federal employees to replace them with an “army” of Republican loyalists, purge federal agencies, and reshape the executive branch into an unchecked arm of the presidency. In other words, it seeks to “dismantle the administrative state” so Republicans can more effectively enact their extremist agenda.
The Heritage Foundation, in partnership with over 70 right-wing organizations, hundreds of right-wing “scholars,” and former Trump officials joined forces to create the 920-page “Mandate for Leadership” policy document outlining their plan. Former President Ronald Reagan implemented 60% of the Heritage Foundation’s 2,000 recommendations in their 1981 “Mandate for Leadership.” These are people who know how government works and have been successful at influencing it for decades.
The Heritage Foundation and its partners want to avoid what happened in 2016 when Republicans weren’t fully prepared for Trump’s win. Trump’s first year was absolute chaos and sparked multiple legal challenges. While Trump’s administration was surely authoritarian, it was also incompetent. Trump did not know how the government worked. Project 2025 wants to make sure the next Republican President, Trump or otherwise, can walk in on day one and inflict their will on the American people.
Their plan for 2025 is the most extreme Mandate for Leadership agenda yet. That agenda includes the outright dismantling of multiple federal agencies, rolling back environmental regulations, ending federal protections for LGBTQ+ people, and undoing all progress made in diversity, equity, and inclusion within the federal government under the guise of religious freedom.
Project 2025 relies on the Unitary Executive Theory, which I wrote about back in 2019 when then-Attorney General William Barr leaned on the theory to defend Trump from the Mueller probe. It’s the theory that Article II of the Constitution renders the president an all-powerful figure above accountability and checks on their power.
The theory can be summed up in former President Richard Nixon’s infamous words: “Well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.” Or, in former President Trump’s more precise words, “Then I have an Article 2, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president.”
Project 2025 draws inspiration from this theory, pushing for a radical agenda that would see the executive branch gain unprecedented power. Checks and balances would be eroded, and power would consolidated in the hands of the president and his loyalists installed throughout the federal bureaucracy. It’s downright authoritarian, and every American should be aware of it.
Let’s dive in.
Replacing Federal Workers With Right-Wing Loyalists
Donald Trump and his 2024 GOP rivals have been repeatedly talking about how they want to “dismantle the Administrative State” or “dismantle the Deep State,” as Trump described it in his Agenda 47 platform - which has a lot of similarities to Project 2025. Both Trump’s plan and Project 2025 call for the purging of federal workers through the reinstatement of “Schedule F.”
In October 2020, during the final months of his presidency, Trump signed a “Schedule F” executive order that reclassified tens of thousands of federal workers as “at-will” employees, making them easier to fire for no cause. Non-political federal workers usually have civil service protections that prevent them from being directly fired by the President. This protection prevented Trump from purging vast swaths of federal workers who, at times, questioned or refused to implement some of his often illegal proposals.
Upon taking office, President Biden immediately rescinded Trump’s Schedule F executive order and is currently trying to put rules in place to protect them - an initiative we’ll talk about more later in this piece. But as it stands right now, an incoming Republican President could easily re-implement Schedule F and begin their purge.
The next part of the plan after the immediate purge of tens of thousands, as many as 50,000 workers has been discussed, would be to replace them with loyalists. Project 2025 has a detailed plan for how to accomplish this quickly. They’re creating a database of conservatives eager to serve in the federal government. Think of it as a Republican LinkedIn. They’re planning to recruit and train tens of thousands of right-wing professionals so they’re ready to be installed in a future GOP admin on day one. They’ve already started recruiting and training on their website.
Paul Dans, the Director of Project 2025, explicitly said that they are “systematically preparing to march into office and bring a new army, aligned, trained, and essentially weaponized conservatives ready to do battle against the deep state.”
Russell Vought, Trump’s former director of the Office of Management and Budget, has been tasked with implementing the Project 2025 policy program. Vought told Politico about the readiness of this recruitment effort.
“We have to be thinking mechanically about how to take these institutions over.” Vought says that executive orders and staff will be “ready on Day One of the next transition. Whatever is necessary to seize control of the administrative state is really our task.”
Kevin Roberts, President of the Heritage Foundation, told Politico about how unprecedented this effort is:
“What we’ve never gotten right in the modern conservative movement, even under Reagan, was having a network of right-of-center professionals who were ready to go. To get 10,000 to 20,000 names into this database who are not only submitting their resumes but also being vetted to some extent, and who, depending upon the classification of the position we think they’re suitable for, are going through these training modules — that’s the part that’s never been done before.”
He’s right. This is certainly unprecedented. It’s also unnerving. Career civil servants consist of experts in their field who usually stay on between administrations. They keep the rank-and-file of government from being overtly political in nature and keep the government running. Firing tens of thousands and replacing them with right-wing zealots would cause absolute chaos and dysfunction. But, of course, that’s the point.
So, that covers the personnel and training component of Project 2025. What about their policy?
Project 2025’s Extremist Policy Agenda
Let’s look at some of the specifics of Project 2025’s “recommendations.”
Takeover of Federal Agencies
Project 2025 is calling for the next Republican President to defund the Department of Justice and take control of more rank-in-file roles. They want to completely dismantle the FBI. Donald Trump and Vivek Ramaswamy have echoed these calls.
They’re calling for the Department of Homeland Security to be broken up and for the elimination of the Departments of Education and Commerce. Trump, DeSantis, and Ramaswamy have also called for the Education Department to be dismantled.
They want to give the White House full control over agencies like the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). After they’ve taken full control of all these federal agencies and eliminated non-political civil servants, they want to inflict their will on the country.
Roll Back Environmental Protections: The Project 2025 policy document mentions the EPA at least 90 times. Their plan aims to gut the EPA and roll back countless environmental regulations, just like Donald Trump did as President.
Prosecution for Distributing Abortion Pills by Mail: A move that could have significant implications for women's reproductive rights.
Abolishing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives: Particularly targeting initiatives established at the Department of Defense.
End LGBTQ+ Protections: The abolishment of federal protections for LGBTQ+ people is key to this plan. Read what they propose for yourself:
“The president should direct agencies to rescind regulations interpreting sex discrimination provisions as prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, transgender status, sex characteristics, etc.”
This extends to employers. Project 2025 wants to erode Title VII protections and allow employers to discriminate against people under the guise of religion:
Provide robust protections for religious employers. America’s religious diversity means that workplaces include people of many faiths and that many employers are faith-based. Nevertheless, the Biden Administration has been hostile to people of faith, especially those with traditional beliefs about marriage, gender, and sexuality. The new Administration should enact policies with robust respect for religious exercise in the workplace, including under the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA),8 Title VII, and federal conscience protection laws.
They not only want to roll back protections, they want to eliminate the words used to describe those protections:
“The next conservative President must make the institutions of American civil society hard targets for woke culture warriors. This starts with deleting the terms sexual orientation and gender identity (“SOGI”), diversity, equity, and inclusion (“DEI”), gender, gender equality, gender equity, gender awareness, gender-sensitive, abortion, reproductive health, reproductive rights, and any other term used to deprive Americans of their First Amendment rights out of every federal rule, agency regulation, contract, grant, regulation, and piece of legislation that exists.”
Criminalize Porn: Project 2025’s stance on pornography is particularly extreme. Regardless of your stance on it, most rational people would agree this is a bit extreme:
“Pornography, manifested today in the omnipresent propagation of transgender ideology and sexualization of children, for instance, is not a political Gordian knot inextricably binding up disparate claims about free speech, property rights, sexual liberation, and child welfare. It has no claim to First Amendment protection. Its purveyors are child predators and misogynistic exploiters of women. Their product is as addictive as any illicit drug and as psychologically destructive as any crime. Pornography should be outlawed. The people who produce and distribute it should be imprisoned. Educators and public librarians who purvey it should be classed as registered sex offenders. And telecommunications and technology firms that facilitate its spread should be shuttered.”
These are just some of the unhinged policy proposals across hundreds of pages. If you want to raise your blood pressure, I suggest you read some of the document for yourself.
Project 2025 has reportedly reached out to all of the major Republican 2024 candidates, not that they need any convincing to get on board with this approach. If you look at their proposals, most candidates align with all of the goals outlined in Project 2025 - especially the frontrunner, Donald Trump.
How Can This Be Prevented?
The straightforward way to prevent Project 2025 from being implemented would be for Democrats to win the 2024 election. While much of this agenda can be implemented via executive order, even the President of the Heritage Foundation acknowledged the Republican president will need the House and Senate to accomplish all their goals. Kevin Roberts told Politico:
“Yes, this is daunting, there is no doubt about it. It requires not just a plan and it doesn’t just require the personnel. This requires controlling not just the White House but both chambers of Congress.”
Keeping the House and Senate could thwart some of Project 2025’s goals. But a lot of this plan relies heavily on changes to the executive branch. So you’re probably wondering, aside from winning, is there anything Democrats can do ahead of time to prevent this in the event they lose? Good question. Yes, there are things Democrats can do now to limit the damage a potential future Republican president can do, especially when it comes to protecting federal workers.
Last month, after the in-depth details of Project 2025 became public, President Biden made a rule change that would make it more difficult to implement a new Schedule F executive order. But if a GOP admin were to take over, they could easily just change the rules back. Legal experts claim that the rule changes would only cause a delay in a future Republican president implementing Schedule F, not prevent it. But this could provide some time for legal challenges to be filed.
A more definitive solution would be a legislative one. Democrats have tried multiple times to pass legislation that would codify these civil service protections into law, but Republicans blocked them at every turn.
Democrats would have to make this a legislative priority heading into next year and attempt to gain some bipartisan support. But given Democrats have a narrow majority in the Senate and are in the minority in the House, it’s unlikely.
The best way to prevent Project 2025 from being implemented by a Republican President is to elect a Democratic President. Simple as that. Americans should be aware of this agenda and keep it in mind before they head to the polls in 2024.