Trump hammers out a second-term fascist vision for America
President Donald Trump applauds at the Heritage Foundation's annual President's Club meeting, Oct. 17, 2017 in Washington. The Heritage Foundation is the key force behind 'Project 2025,' | Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

With only a year to go before the 2024 vote, growing numbers of people are becoming aware that the dangers posed by this election are more serious than any ever faced.

The almost-certain Republican candidate for president, Donald Trump, has already spelled out his fascist vision for the nation. The wildest predictions about whether he can carry it out are not at all hypothetical. Every indication is that the pieces are falling into place that could enable him to do his worst.

It’s crazy to believe, some say, that if elected Trump will never leave office. It’s not crazy at all, however, when one considers that he already tried this at the end of his first term, and it is even less crazy now there is a major operation underway by loyal operatives to fill the courts and state election bodies with people who would allow him to stay in office indefinitely if given the chance.

Trump sees cementing himself in power as a modern-day dictator as the only way he can stay out of jail.

He will be able to revamp the Justice Department with people like Jeffrey Clark, who will drop the charges against him and even allow him to pardon himself. He fantasizes about commanding Pentagon officials to use the armed forces to crush any domestic opposition to him. He has already promised to invoke the Insurrection Act right after his inauguration and send troops in to crush any anti-Trump demonstrations. He won’t allow them to take over the nation’s capital the way they did after his first inauguration.

It’s not conspiratorial or paranoid thinking to see how large numbers of pro-fascist lawmakers now in office have followed the time-tested fascist playbook when it comes to the Jan. 6 coup:

  • First, they denied it. It was really Antifa, they said.
  • Later, they admitted a “peaceful protest” had happened but said the government had to protect the rights of the insurrectionists and not prosecute them too strongly.
  • Next, they actually embraced Jan. 6, saying that it was the right thing to do, an expression of democracy, and that they would do it again. Trump says he will pardon them in a second term. They are now not criminals, but victims.
Proud Boys leader Henry ‘Enrique’ Tarrio wears a hat that says ‘The War Boys’ during a rally in Portland, Ore., Sept. 26, 2020. Tarrio and three other members of the far-right extremist group were convicted of a plot to attack the U.S. Capitol in a desperate bid to keep Donald Trump in power after Trump lost the 2020 presidential election. Plenty more loyalists like Tarrio are prepared to engage in violence on behalf of Trump if needed in the 2024 election and in a second term.| Allison Dinner / AP

Their next attempt would be more lethal to democracy, as the Republicans today have thousands of armed people across the country ready to do again what they did on Jan. 6—and worse. Violence, they now say, is necessary in their fight to “save” America.

It’s not the stuff of conspiracy to realize that only a few months ago barely anyone had ever heard of Mike Johnson, now the Republican Speaker of the House. On Tuesday, the man from nowhere announced that he will release tapes of the Jan. 6 coup attempt with the faces of criminal participants blurred to “protect them from Justice Department prosecution.”

It’s a logical follow-up to what we now know was his key role in trying to overthrow the government at the end of the first Trump term. He was one of those who designed the fake elector scheme. Imagine what he could do if Trump were elected and installed his loyalist lawyer Clark at the Justice Department.

Trump would count, in a second term, on support from people like Johnson, whom the right wing has already put in leading positions.

Large numbers are now in office

The scary thing is that Mike Johnson is only a small part of the fascist government-in-waiting that already surrounds us, and its schemes don’t hinge solely on the election of Trump. It plans to jump into action for any candidate who lines up with their extreme right policies and can defeat Joe Biden and the Democrats in 2024.

Although much of what the government-in-waiting does is secret or semi-secret—like the maneuvering that propelled Johnson to the speakership—they also have a “Project 2025,” complete with a handbook that, in many ways, serves as a modern-day, toned-down public version of Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

In the pages of that handbook, one doesn’t have to do too much reading between the lines to see the plan is to have a complete infrastructure in place on Day One of the second Trump administration to take over, reshape completely, and then destroy the entire bureaucracy that guarantees democracy and the functioning of government on a day-to-day basis.

They would get rid of healthcare people in place to prevent pandemics, educators who guarantee quality schooling, regulators who guarantee fair wages, and entire agencies that guarantee a safe environment and human and civil rights. In short, they go after the entire infrastructure of democracy, which they derisively call the “deep state.” At least 50,000 workers we depend upon to help us get through life’s trials and tribulations would disappear overnight.

Paul Dans, director of the 2025 Presidential Transition Project, admits that the plan is to push out tens of thousands and “flood the zone,” as he puts it, with right-wing operatives. This is something they wish they had done, but failed to do, in the first Trump term.

“This is a clarion call to come to Washington,” he said. “People need to lay down their tools, step aside from their lives, and say, ‘This is my lifetime moment to serve.’”

The unprecedented fascist effort is radically different from conservative and right-of-center operations in the past, which were often skeptical of “big government.” There are many new right-wing groups, previously unheard of, that want a new approach, one that uses rather than scorns “big government.”

The Trump-era right wingers want to kill the “administrative state” from within by firing everyone standing in the way of the Trump agenda and replacing them with extreme right-wingers who will march in lockstep to their vision.

Want a clear path

The new crop of fascists never again want to deal with the president’s nominees failing to win appointment, like Trump often did in his first term. They want a situation where a Republican in the White House will never meet resistance to their edicts. They want thousands of new government bureaucrats who won’t think twice about breaking the law if ordered to do so.

Until Kristallnacht, the “night of the broken glass,” in Germany, if your business was vandalized, you could get compensation from the government agency responsible for that. After that attack, the new Nazi-installed bureaucrats running the agency simply told Jews seeking relief that they were not entitled to relief because they were Jews. It mattered not to them that they were violating German laws still on the books. (Another good model for Trump to follow!)

The new right-wingers preparing for a second Trump term are happy their leader inveighs against immigrants who “poison our blood” (also right out of Mein Kampf) and urges his backers to descend upon areas where there are a majority of Black voters to intimidate them in the next election.

But they want much more than just that. For them, the usual Trump racist attacks on immigrants and voting rights are only the beginning, a tactic to win conservative votes. They want total and deep control of the entire government infrastructure to smash the power of labor and all its allies.

While many of the Project 2025 proposals are inspired by Trump, the people behind it—many of them from older right-wing outfits like the Heritage Foundation—have no reason to fear other GOP presidential candidates, particularly Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy. They can easily work their fascist vision through these candidates, too.

The bottom line, however, is that if Trump wins a second term, the work of all the right-wing think tanks and lawmakers already in office will guarantee that he’ll have the people he needs to make his fascist vision for America a reality.

“The president on Day One will be a wrecking ball for the administrative state,” said Russ Vought, a former Trump administration official involved in the effort who is now president of the “conservative,” but essentially fascistic, Center for Renewing America.

A big chunk of the fascist agenda would be carried out by putting into effect the viciously anti-labor “Schedule F,” which would reclassify tens of thousands of the two million federal employees as essentially “at-will” workers who could be fired with no notice.

Biden has condemned and reversed all the prior Trump administration attempts to institute such measures. All the remaining GOP presidential candidates, however, have said they would institute at least some of the outrageous “Schedule F” terms.

Even where Schedule F failed to replace everyone with fascists, it would, at the very least, create chaos in the civil service, which was overhauled during President Jimmy Carter’s administration in an attempt to ensure a stable and qualified workforce and end political bias dating from 19th-century patronage.

As it now stands, just 4,000 members of the federal workforce are considered political appointees who typically change with each administration. But Schedule F could put tens of thousands of career professional jobs into this category.

Schedule F is essentially just one more salvo that can be fired at democracy in order to help destroy it.

Overhauling rights

The Trumpites have similarly called for a “top to bottom overhaul” of the Department of Justice, particularly curbing its independence and ending any FBI efforts, as feeble as they may be, to combat the spread of misinformation.

Increased attacks on women’s rights are also a major feature of what a second Trump term would guarantee. The plans include wide expansion of what would be considered criminal behavior. Trump says, for example, he will criminally prosecute anyone distributing abortion pills by mail.

In other law enforcement schemes, he calls for avoiding prosecution altogether. Shoplifters, for example, should, he says, be shot on the spot.

The fascist “government-in-waiting” plans to abolish any and all diversity programs in the government. It also plans to enforce strict anti-vaccine regimens and plans, for example, to reinstate any government workers or officials who were let go for refusing COVID-19 vaccinations.

Shocking advice

The Heritage Foundation was out in force at county fairs and other summer events to promote its ‘Project 2025’ Trump administration blueprint among conservative voters and Republican supporters. Free swag, like this fan, was distributed to help get the word out about the scheme. | AP

The “Project 2025” operation is offering Trump shocking advice on how to handle a wide variety of situations.

For instance, it outlines how he can more effectively muzzle the free press.  They tell Trump he should get rid of space that the White House traditionally reserves for the media. They call for the appointment of a White House counsel who will obey, rather than challenge the president.

Historically, presidents have depended on Congress to put policies into place. The fascistic Project 2025 suggests that instead, the president should act alone, as a dictator bypassing Congress.

To stop senators who try to block presidential Cabinet nominees, Project 2025 calls for installing top allies in “acting” administrative roles, as was done during the Trump administration to bypass the Senate confirmation process.

John McEntee, another former Trump official advising the effort, said the next administration can “play hardball a little more than we did with Congress.”

On the power to make war and on military expenditures, Trump can be expected to follow advice that the White House cease notifying Congress about arms sales.

The idea coming from Project 2025 says, essentially, that the president won the election so he is in charge and that everyone must fall in line by following his orders. This dictatorial arrangement has never been the way it was supposed to work, but what we are realizing now is that this was only the case because there were people around to stop it. The Trump plan is to eliminate those people.

The fascistic coalition behind Project 2025 is already hiring people to fill what they hope will be the jobs in a second Trump administration. They were at the Iowa State Fair this year, where they added to their growing database of potential loyal soldiers for the implementation of their Trumpian nightmare.

The majority is in opposition

The positive thing about this grave danger is that there is an anti-MAGA majority in America that can and must be the base of a movement that will cancel Trump and the plans of Project 2025.

The anti-MAGA majority has been winning local election after local election all across the country. It must be mobilized to build the unity needed to guarantee that Trump never again enters the White House.

A Biden victory next November, while far from solving all the problems in the United States, will at least allow the American people to move the country in a healthier direction in the future. The conditions of what struggle against fascism would involve under a Trump administration are almost too horrible to contemplate and must be avoided at all costs.

Biden himself said Tuesday night that if Trump were not running for president, he might not be running. When he ran for the first time, Biden said he saw himself as a transitional president. He did not mean a transition from one Trump administration to another. He meant a transition away from Trump and Trumpism altogether. That was the vision of many millions who voted for Biden.

In the 2024 election, the anti-MAGA majority can and must do everything possible to put an end to the Trump nightmare vision and replace it with a vision of peace, freedom, justice, and democracy.

As with all op-eds and news-analytical articles published by People’s World, this article reflects the views of its author.

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John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.