A truck with an poster for the Expose Project 2025 campaign
(Paul Morigi/Getty Images)

Why Project 2025 Is So Difficult to Talk About

In April of 2023, the powerful ultra-conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation released a nearly 1,000-page document intended to be a blueprint for Donald Trump, if elected in 2024, to fundamentally up-end our Democracy as we know it. It’s called Project 2025, or the Presidential Transition Project, and we’re not talking about it nearly enough.

Recommended Videos

In the year and change since the project was made public, there’s been unsettlingly little discussion about it. Maybe it’s because the project is so extreme that to talk about its contents inevitably makes a person sound like they’re exaggerating, being hysterical, or fear-mongering. Maybe the people behind the project were counting on that.

Project 2025 was not created by Trump, but for him—or another willing conservative candidate. Trump has not actually said he’ll implement the plan but it was shaped by a number of people who have previously worked under and around him and much of it is based directly on his own agenda and executive orders from his first term.

What does Project 2025 say?

The plan is a road map to start moving the government to a fascist autocracy on Day One of the next Republican presidency. (And actually much of the groundwork is already being laid ahead of the election.)

That’s not an exaggeration—the plan would gut the federal government, ousting as many nonpartisan government officials as possible and replacing them with conservatives who go through the project’s own trainings and take its loyalty tests. The plan is rooted in Christian nationalism, it decimates abortion access and protections, and essentially criminalizes the act of existing while transgender—to name just a very few of the elements it lays out.

There is a lot included in this 900-plus-page document and nearly all of it is impossible to talk about without sounding like a doomsday reactionary. Here are some of the most egregious parts.

Creating Trump’s government

Despite right-wing claims of a “deep state” liberal “swamp,” the federal government is largely made up of nonpartisan civil servants. Under Project 2025, tens of thousands of federal employees would be reclassified in such a way that makes them easier to fire, with the plan being to replace them with appointees who have gone through the project’s own training “academy.”

Similarly, Project 2025 declares that the Department of Justice is not its own distinct entity. It says the DOJ “falls under the direct supervision and control of the President,” and that its decisions “must be made consistent with the President’s agenda.” And remember this comes at a time when the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has been threatening to weaponize the Justice Department against his political rivals.

The plan also aims to eliminate major departments in the federal government, including the Department of Education.


Project 2025 attacks abortion and other reproductive freedoms from a ton of different angles. It capitalizes on the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, declaring the court has “acknowledged that the Constitution contains no right to an abortion.” It insists the FDA reverse its approval of abortion pills and reinstates the Comstock Act to ban the shipment of abortion medication. It instructs the DOJ—now under the direct control of the president, remember—to criminalize the distribution of abortion pills.

Project 2025 also removes the words “abortion,” “reproductive rights,” and “reproductive health” from “every federal rule, agency regulation, contract, grant, regulation, and piece of legislation that exists.”

It would reverse a bunch of Biden-era policies, including requiring hospitals to offer abortions in medical emergencies. It would instruct the CDC to do away with any programs they see as “promoting abortion as health care.” It also attacks contraception, fetal cell research, and surrogacy, among many, many other things.

Trans rights

Project 2025 equates research into gender identity with “woke transgender activism” and directs the Department of Health and Human Services to stop all research into the subject. It equates a “transgender ideology” with the “sexualization of children” and “pornography” and says it should be outlawed. According to the plan’s forward, those who “produce and distribute” that ideology, including librarians, “should be imprisoned” and “classed as registered sex offenders.”

The plan “starts with deleting the terms sexual orientation and gender identity” as well as “gender, gender equality, gender equity, gender awareness, [and] gender-sensitive” from rules, regulations, policies, grants, and the like.

Climate change

The forward for Project 2025 calls climate activism an “anti-human” “pseudo-religion,” which should give you an idea of just how devastating this plan would be for the cause. It decimates research and funding in just about every way possible and reinvests in destructive fossil fuel initiatives.


Conservatives continue to make it clear they are absolutely terrified of diversity. As with abortion and LGBTQIA+ rights, Project 2025 bars language related to “diversity, equity, and inclusion” from federal documents. It dismantles governmental DEI initiatives in every form possible and in some cases, states that participating in those initiatives is “grounds for termination of employment.”

Again, that’s just a small chunk of what Project 2025 lays out. Media Matters has an excellent breakdown of more of its elements and The New Republic has some big-picture analysis worth checking out. If you’re feeling up to it, you can also read the full “Mandate for Leadership” here.

How likely is it that Project 2025 will become a reality?

We’d like to think that the massive scope of the project laid out above would be beyond the ability of any one person to implement—that the government’s checks and balances would keep this wish list from being realized. But Project 2025 is designed specifically to circumnavigate those checks and balances. It doesn’t aim to pass new laws, it’s about establishing priorities and issuing directives to federal agencies, all while increasing the power of the executive branch.

Removing language related to reproductive rights, gender identity, and diversity from all federal communications is especially sinister, as it makes it impossible to act from any place that isn’t set to a default of a white, cisgender, heterosexual, in many cases married, male American citizen.

This isn’t the first time a plan like this has been laid out by the Heritage Foundation, and they’ve seen major success before. The Nation writes:

Heritage’s proudest moment was its 1980 Mandate for Leadership, which Ronald Reagan, a self-proclaimed movement president, literally distributed to cabinet members. Heritage boasts that Reagan implemented 60 percent of its recommendations by the end of his first year—including massive tax cuts, Star Wars, doubling the military budget in peacetime and more.

If Trump—or whoever the next Republican president is, in 2024 or beyond—implemented 60% of Project 2025, it would be devastating.

The Mary Sue is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy
Image of Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.