Trump will be a conduit for the most backward figures in US politics if he wins, says Katrina vanden Heuvel.



The article discusses the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and its implications for a potential second presidency under Donald Trump. It highlights the involvement of the Heritage Foundation, who have invested $22m into Project 2025, a plan to radically reshape governmental structures and give the president more power, arguing this indicates a potential turn toward dictatorship under a second Trump administration. The article also mentions the intention of radical Christian nationalists and right-wing groups to dismantle civil liberties and enact theocratic policies, as well as the potential for Trump-appointed judges to rule on challenges to his policies.

Ronald Reagan and CPAC: A Contrast of Fifty Years

Five decades ago, then-governor Ronald Reagan was the keynote speaker at the first Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). He presented the US as an embodiment of human virtue and excellence. Last week’s CPAC, however, was dominated by extremists and conspiracy theorists, and attendees were able to purchase “Woke Tears Water” and play January 6-themed pinball.

CPAC should not be dismissed as a mere fringe gathering. It signals what a potential second term for Donald Trump might entail, guided by right-wing groups like The Heritage Foundation, who see Trump as their ticket to relevance.

The Heritage Foundation is investing $22m into Project 2025, a plan to overhaul the federal government. It involves a strengthened version of the unitary executive theory, which advocates for unchecked presidential power. As one speaker at CPAC put it, “Welcome to the end of democracy.”

The policy agenda of The Heritage Foundation is remarkably radical, calling for the complete prohibition of abortion, prioritising religious liberties over civil rights, and planning tax cuts for the wealthy.

In a recent speech, Trump claimed that under his administration, no one would dare disturb the cross of Christ. Russell Vought, a key figure involved with Project 2025 and a frequent Trump associate, is being considered for the role of White House chief of staff.

Trump has expressed his intent to exercise absolute power from “day one” and to indict those who oppose him. He has proposed a 10-point “Plan to Protect Children from Leftwing Gender Insanity” and has promised to deploy federal troops into Democratic-run cities like New York and Chicago.

With the backing of the Article III Project, an advocacy group for constitutionalist judges led by Trump loyalist Mike Davis, Trump may have the advantage in the courts during a potential second term. Davis has pledged that future Trump-appointed judges will be bold and strong.

The recent ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court that frozen embryos are children could be a sign of things to come. Trump continues to nominate radical activist judges, indicating that his policies will likely withstand judicial scrutiny in a favourable court.

Just like his first term, Trump will serve as a conduit for some of the most regressive figures in U.S. politics during a potential second term. And unlike the last time, he will be unbound by democratic norms or moderating voices. As Trump leads Biden in several polls, the possibility of a Trump victory in 2024 and the commencement of Project 2025 is a sobering thought.

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