Meet The Outfit Behind Trump's Fascist 2025 Agenda

Kevin Roberts
Kevin Roberts

The large red fingerprints of the Heritage Foundation seem to be everywhere in the news. The group authored Project 2025, which would empty the federal government, populate it with MAGA loyalists, and, in its own words, “deconstruct the administrative state.” As The New Republicputs it, Project 2025 is “a remarkably detailed guide to turning the United States into a fascist’s paradise.”

They’re thrilled by the Supreme Court’s recent immunity ruling, deeply involved in attacks on diversity and equity initiatives, and obsessed over strange things like Prince Harry’s visa.

And they promise not to kill all leftists—as long as we sit quietly and acquiesce to their dominion over the nation.

The Heritage Foundation so kindly offering to let us have our lives in exchange for our freedom is a malignancy that has festered in the group for decades. Though it benefits from a name and a network of donors stretching back five decades, today’s Heritage Foundation is a much more dangerous beast.

It has wealth. It has connections. And it has democracy in its sights.

The Heritage Foundation was founded in 1973 by the founder of Coors Brewing and conservative strategists Paul Weyrich and Ed Feulner. They thought that President Richard Nixon had moved too far to the left and that other Republican organizations were too timid. They promoted a strong anti-communist message and a social conservatism that didn’t recognize a wall between church and state, and pushed for a smaller government.

The group quickly gained power under President Ronald Reagan, who embraced its “Mandate for Leadership”—a 1,100-page document of policies—and distributed it among his staff. Much of what came to be known as “the Reagan doctrine,” both domestically and internationally, was a repackaging of this product from the Heritage Foundation.

Having established deep inroads in the Republican Party, Heritage maintained that position through both Democratic and Republican administrations. They were largely responsible for shaping Republican positions to oppose the universal health care plan offered by President Bill Clinton. The Heritage plan, "Assuring Affordable Health Care for All Americans," would go on to be the basis of then-Gov. Mitt Romeny's health care plan for Massachusetts and eventually form the core of the Affordable Care Act. By this time, the Heritage Foundation was attacking it.

Like many organizations, Heritage has seen turnovers in leadership, staff purges, shifts in philosophy, and difficulties in maintaining its place in a changing political environment. But the Heritage Foundation that exists today is practically a toddler. With a razor blade.

This iteration of the Heritage Foundation dates to the pandemic, when the group's previous leader, Kay Coles James, made the mistake of trying to follow safety guidelines, including closing the group’s offices for an extended period and putting up signs that encouraged masking. That led to her replacement by conspiracy theorist Kevin Roberts, who had been on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's COVID-19 task force and immediately pushed Heritage into suing to stop any vaccine mandate.

Under Roberts, the group moved swiftly away from its traditional conservative positions—and into Christian nationalism. It retained its funding and deep roots in the Republican Party, but it began pushing for the ouster of existing Republican leadership and for the historically hawkish organization to oppose military aid to Ukraine.

The organization also switched from supporting former Vice President Mike Pence in the months after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection to condemning Pence for his failure to go along with Trump’s plans and ordering members to take down posts opposing Jan. 6 violence.

If the MAGA movement is the red-hatted equivalent of “brownshirts,” Heritage is now the SS—the real power behind the throne. It does the plotting and planning, so Trump can stand around and rail against wet batteries.

Anyone on the right who is currently amused by Roberts’ none-too-subtle hints about killing progressives who oppose Trump might want to think again. When the long knives come out, Heritage will be there for them, as well.

Because whatever heritage this group stands for, it definitely isn’t American democracy.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

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