Republican Platform? Who Needs One?
With Republican primary rhetoric and “Project 2025” a platform is superfluous
Up until the 2016 presidential election it was possible to imagine that some Republicans might believe that global heating (“climate change”) was real and that curtailing carbon emissions was important—just on a longer timeline than most of us would like. The eastern Washington Representative to the U.S. Congress, Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA CD-5) never says plainly that she believes climate science is a hoax—though it clear that is what she believes—in part because she is intellectually unequipped to comprehend the science. Since Roe v. Wade kept her from acting on her convictions one could ignore McMorris Rodgers’ statements on about reproductive freedom. Now, after Dobbs, McMorris Rodgers has the power to act on her convictions and vote for a national ban. After all her declarations does anyone think she would vote against such a national ban if it came up for a vote—regardless of any obfuscating language she might soon put forward.
Before 2016 and the Trump election the Republican Party concocted a platform of carefully worded intentions, like the intent to “lower taxes and cut regulations to unleash American business” or “reduce inflation”, a platform that often concealed the extremism of what the party would support. Since Trump came to power such a subtly worded platform would be laughable. Indeed, the party is not bothering to produce one. No subtle wording can conceal the extremism of statements and actions like “deconstructing the administrative state”, withdrawing from the Paris Accords, opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling, calling for the abolition of the Department of Education (as was heard during the Republican primary debate last week), and the suppression of voting rights for people of color under the guise of “voting integrity”.
Any differences drawn among the non-Trump contenders for the Republican nomination for President in 2024 are illusory—the extremism of the party is on full display. No one should imagine any Republican hopeful to the Presidency vetoing any extremist bill that reached their desk that was voted in by a Republican majority in the House and Senate. A vote for any Republican is a vote in furtherance of a radical reactionary, science-denying, personal freedom-suffocating agenda.
As if to cast off all doubt of this assertion, we now have a declarative blueprint for enacting the reactionary Republican agenda. “Project 2025” is a document with a history that voters ignore at their peril.
The Heritage Foundation, founded in 1973, is the flagship of the conservative, pro-business, non-profit “think tanks” inspired by the Powell Memorandum (1971) and funded by dark money from the Koch donor network. In 1981 the Heritage Foundation’s first “Mandate for Leadership”, a three thousand page document, detailed much of the policy pursued by the Reagan Administration. The “Mandates for Leadership” carry weight as blueprints for action and statements of intent and policy for incoming Republican administrations.
The latest Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise (aka “Project 2025, Presidential Transition Project”) lays out the detailed actions we should expect if Republicans regain control of the federal government in 2025 following the 2024 elections. Judging by the statements made by the candidates in the Republican primary debate on Fox News last week we should expect Project 2025 to be a guiding light for any administration headed by any Republican hopeful.
What “conservatives” promise with Project 2025 is a comprehensive expansion of all the worst executive acts and congressional initiatives we recall from the early days of Trump administration, the time when Republicans held a slim majority in both the House and the Senate. Trump was, one suspects, surprised by his win in 2016. He lacked the comprehensive plan of action to move forward with the entire Republican Party wish list that Project 2025 now provides. Indeed, his only legislative achievement was the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017”, the legislation that gave the wealthiest among us a huge tax break even as it was sold to the average Republican voter as “money in your pocket”. In contrast to Trump’s lack of preparation, Project 2025, a 920 page document, (click to see it) offers detailed goals and a plan to achieve them. I would not recommend taking the time to read the whole thing. Instead, skim the Table of Contents, check out the chapter authors, and use the Command-F function on your computer to word search the pdf for words and phrases like climate change, education, taxes, and equity.
This summer of drought, epic storms, floods, fires and smoke is a wakeup call to the long-predicted weather disruption due to global heating. Project 2025 cites the words “climate change” fifty-four times, each time to disparage, as “ideological”, the broad scientific consensus on the threat of manmade global heating. Project 2025 provides detailed plans for dismantling all government efforts to address the threat. You can read it for yourself, but here is how Lisa Friedman of the New York Times summarizes it:
The blueprint said the next Republican president would help repeal the Inflation Reduction Act, the 2022 law that is offering $370 billion for wind, solar, nuclear, green hydrogen and electric vehicle technology, with most of the new investments taking place in Republican-led states.
The plan calls for shuttering a Department of Energy office that has $400 billion in loan authority to help emerging green technologies. It would make it more difficult for solar, wind and other renewable power — the fastest growing energy source in the United States — to be added to the grid. Climate change would no longer be considered an issue worthy of discussion on the National Security Council, and allied nations would be encouraged to buy and use more fossil fuels rather than renewable energy.
The blueprint throws open the door to drilling inside the pristine Arctic wilderness, promises legal protections for energy companies that kill birds while extracting oil and gas and declares the federal government has an “obligation to develop vast oil and gas and coal resources” on America’s public lands.
Notably, it also would restart a quest for something climate denialists have long considered their holy grail: reversal of a 2009 scientific finding at the Environmental Protection Agency that says carbon dioxide emissions are a danger to public health.
Erasing that finding, conservatives have long believed, would essentially strip the federal government of the right to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from most sources.
Commitment to this reactionary global-heating-denying plan of action extends to the very roots of the Republican Party. Witness Republican hyperbolic fear-mongering over a Washington State (and local) effort to prohibit the installation of natural gas infrastructure supplying new construction.
Most of the readers of this blog probably will not live to see the worst of the weather disasters resulting from global heating—but your children and grandchildren will. Denial of the scientific reality of human caused global heating is just one of many reasons to shun the now-unmasked reactionary politics of the modern day Republican Party, regardless of any individual candidate’s attempts to appear moderate and reasonable. Shun them in every election until the Republican Party becomes reacquainted with reality. (Such a re-make is not impossible. Remember that the Environmental Protection Agency was established during the Nixon administration—before the Party went off the rails.)
Keep to the high ground,