Architect of Project 2025 cheers U.S.’ march toward dictatorship
Heritage Foundation President Kevin D. Roberts. | via Heritage Foundation

On the eve of the United States’ 248th birthday, Kevin Roberts – president of the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank – cheered on the country’s descent toward dictatorship and made clear that the far right will not hesitate to use violence to achieve its aims.

Speaking on Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast, Roberts said the Trump “revolution” that is now underway will be “bloodless” only “if the left allows it to be.”

Roberts hailed the Supreme Court decision granting Donald Trump immunity for the crimes he committed while in office – including, most importantly, his effort to overturn the 2020 election results, culminating in the Jan. 6, 2021, coup attempt.

Heritage, with Roberts at its head, has taken the lead in mapping out an extremist agenda for a second Trump term – the infamous Project 2025.

The 900-page blueprint calls for firing tens of thousands of public employees, dismantling the Department of Education and other federal agencies, imposing massive tax cuts for corporations and the super-rich, wiping out climate change regulation on behalf of oil and gas companies, abolishing anti-discrimination protections, severely restricting abortion access, and much more.

The centerpiece of the Heritage wishlist, though, is the implementation of what it calls the “unitary executive.” The proposal is a scheme for transitioning toward a more dictatorial presidency. It would place the entire federal bureaucracy, including independent agencies like the Department of Justice, under direct and absolute presidential control.

Yearning for a dictator

Republican operatives have long yearned for a corporate-backed dictatorship, and the Supreme Court’s immunity ruling in Trump v. United States brings them closer than they’ve ever been to achieving it.

GOP lawyers have worked the legal system for decades in an effort to sideline Congress, undermine the authority of autonomous regulatory agencies in the government, the so-called “administrative state,” and accumulate unrestrained power in the White House.

In the 1970s, President Richard Nixon pushed the idea that he should be able to commit crimes while in office, telling a journalist, “When the president does it, that means it’s not illegal.” He openly declared the end goal that Republicans pursued from that day forward.

During the Reagan years, Republican attorneys and think tanks started assembling constitutional theories to justify a president ignoring Congress and pursuing whatever policies he wanted. Later, they seized on security fears in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks to accumulate vast new powers for President George W. Bush.

The “unitary executive theory” was used to justify the invasion and military occupation of Iraq and the torturing of people in Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib prisons. Domestically, it entailed the creation of Cabinet-level “policy czars” – like the Director of Homeland Security – who reported only to the president and bypassed Congressional oversight. Bush also aggressively used “executive privilege” to block Congress from questioning many of his policies.

With Trump, the fascist wing of the Republican Party now has a leader eager to go all the way to fulfill the right’s authoritarian aspirations. He has no problem resorting to criminality or violence; he has a cult-like mass movement behind him; and, after packing the Supreme Court with extremist justices, he has a compliant court which is a willing accomplice.

It’s not just Republican politicians, policy hacks, and judges backing the effort, though. The skids toward the dictatorial future envisioned by Heritage and its Project 2025 have been greased by major infusions of cash from some of the country’s biggest capitalists and corporations.

Started with seed money from beer magnate Joseph Coors in 1973, the think tank has counted companies and corporate lobbyist groups alike among its funders. The list includes ExxonMobil, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Shell, Dow Chemical, General Motors, Pfizer, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, Altria (makers of Marlboro cigarettes), and hundreds more.

Networks and “foundations” linked to the notorious Koch brothers have also been financial sustainers for Heritage, giving millions over the last several years. Christian nationalist billionaires, like Texas oilman Tim Dunn, have also chipped in – no doubt prompting the Heritage leader’s claim that a “great awakening” to bring America to God is another part of the right’s revolution.

The MAGA “revolution”

“We are going to win, we’re in the process of taking this country back,” Roberts declared on War Room as he advocated a “vigorous executive.” Resorting to the type of lies utilized by fascist movements throughout history, he falsely claimed “the radical left…has taken over our institutions.”

NYU History Professor Ruth Ben-Ghiat, an expert on Italian fascism, said Roberts was undeniably a “fascist” who was “celebrating” the power the Supreme Court handed Trump to “kill people and pay no penalty.” The court, Ben-Ghiat, said, had made Roberts feel “empowered…to threaten the American people.”

She also said that while “the left” and progressive democratic movements would clearly be targeted by a second Trump administration, the term should be more properly interpreted as “everyone who is not MAGA.”

She pointed out that fascist regimes typically come to power by utilizing fear of the left, but then end up imposing their authoritarian and terroristic methods on the whole population. It’s a “classic intimidation tactic,” Ben-Ghiat concluded, “submit or else.”

Roberts’s claim that the MAGA “revolution” would be “bloodless” failed to convince another anti-fascist observer.

“Bloodless? As in when Trump used the military police to clear Lafayette Square so he could hold up a Bible?” Communist Party USA Co-Chair Joe Sims told People’s World, referring to the violent attack on Black Lives Matter demonstrators in Washington, D.C., on June 1, 2020.

Sims said Roberts’s comments are just further confirmation of Republicans’ open adoption of armed violence, a reality which should motivate people to organize now to block the descent into fascism in the November election.

“How many heads have to be bloodied before folks see blood?” he asked. “Give me a break.” Sims also encouraged people to not forget that this is “the same crew who erected gallows and nooses” in front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6th.


C.J. Atkins
C.J. Atkins

C.J. Atkins is the managing editor at People's World. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from York University in Toronto and has a research and teaching background in political economy and the politics and ideas of the American left.