Opinion: The Democrats need their own Project 2025

President Joe Biden speaks about his proposed federal budget for the fiscal year 2024 at the Finishing Trades Institute in Philadelphia on in March 2023.

President Joe Biden speaks about his proposed federal budget for the fiscal year 2024 at the Finishing Trades Institute in Philadelphia on in March 2023. Saul Loeb / AFP via Getty Images/ TNS


Published: 03-25-2024 6:00 AM

Jonathan P. Baird lives in Wilmot.

Many close observers of the 2024 presidential race have commented on Project 2025, the Republican plan for what they intend to do if Trump wins in November. The plan is a maximalist horror show that includes a far-right wish list in every area of life. Drafted by the Heritage Foundation, there is nothing shy about it.

The Republican Party has degenerated into a party that will take America from democracy to dictatorship and fascism. As the historian Timothy Snyder has pointed out, when you vote a strongman in, you vote out the rule of law.

Many Democrats are genuinely alarmed by Project 2025 but instead of proposing an offensive strategy, they respond in a defensive way. This leads to emphasizing how bad Trump is and suggesting Biden will restore normalcy and moderation. It doesn’t present any idea of the changes a Biden re-election would represent.

I would suggest a completely different approach. Regardless of what Democrats actually say, Republicans will call us “socialists.” Democrats should have their own maximalist progressive wish list that contrasts sharply with the far right. That will give voters a much sharper picture of the difference between the two parties. Here’s my Progressive Agenda 2025. In compiling this list, I have consulted with no one. This is my list.

■Democrats support expanding democracy and we oppose fascism: Republicans pose the most dangerous threat since the Civil War to the well-being and freedom of all Americans. Trump says he will be a dictator on day one. He promises a police state, invoking the Insurrection Act. Because of the criminal charges he faces, Trump would never allow another fair and free election where he could lose. He threatens a free press and anyone who criticizes him. In contrast, Democrats propose expanding voting rights through automatic voter registration. The United States has one of the lowest voter turnout rates among developed nations. More than a quarter of eligible voters are not registered to vote. Democrats support expanded voting, not voter suppression and undemocratic gerrymandering.

■Democrats stand with working people and we oppose mass layoffs: Democrats should not be telling workers how great things are. They are not. All working class people are threatened by mass layoffs because of Wall Street greed. In 2024, more than 262,00 people lost their jobs and another 41,700 so far this year. Tech workers have been especially hard hit. As the writer Les Leopold argues in his book, “Wall Street’s War on Workers,” mass layoffs are the most salient economic issue facing the working class. Democrats should place job stability at the center of their demands.

■Democrats should support Sen. Bernie Sanders’ idea to enact a 32-hour workweek with no loss in pay — When Shawn Fain, UAW president, spoke in support of Sanders’ 32-hour workweek legislation in Congress, he pointed out that in 1933 the U.S. Senate passed legislation to enact a 30-hour workweek but it failed due to corporate opposition. It has been 84 years since FDR signed the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1940 establishing a 40-hour workweek. Change is long overdue.

■Democrats must fight to make union organizing easier — An overwhelming majority of Americans support unions but federal law has until recently been tipped heavily in favor of employers. Democrats should support the Protecting the Right to Organize Act which has the goal to make union organizing and bargaining easier.

■A Green New Deal must be supported — In contrast to the Republican climate change deniers, Democrats must recognize the climate emergency and take immediate action toward the goals of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and 100% renewable energy. Part of the Green New Deal is a federal jobs guarantee with jobs at a livable wage, Medicare for All, universal paid family and medical leave, and a tax on the super-rich.

■Abortion rights, the right to birth control and women’s reproductive rights deserve our strongest support — Trump strongly stands behind the Supreme Court’s decision taking away women’s right to choose. Republicans are likely to support a national abortion ban, invocation of the Comstock Act, ending access to abortion pills as well as opposition to IVF. All these policies are deeply unpopular. Never have Americans lost a right they held for 50 years. Democrats should try and put the right to choose on every ballot in every state. Democrats support choice.

■Democrats oppose the hate, dehumanization and racism directed against immigrants by Trump and the Republicans — We need order at the border but we also need a legal path to citizenship. The right to asylum is an international human right and America must continue its tradition of allowing that right. The MAGA Republicans have been spewing hate in all directions including against LGBTQ people, Asian Americans, Muslims, Jews, Latinos and African Americans. Democrats oppose all hate. Republicans talk about deporting millions of immigrants and putting them in detention camps. This is Hitler talk and Democrats are unalterably opposed to treating anyone in such a dehumanized fashion.

■Democrats should support the most expansive student debt relief — It is crazy that a four-year college experience can cost over $200,000. That places an unreasonable burden on student debtors. As a matter of public policy, Democrats don’t see student debtors as morally culpable for the creation of a system that weighs the heaviest on the students who have the least.

■Democrats must work to reduce gun-related deaths — Universal background checks, banning high-capacity ammunition magazines, banning assault-style weapons, and raising the minimum age for buying guns to 21 are all reasonable reforms that should be supported. No right is absolute and the horrible price we have been paying in mass shooting events, domestic violence-related gun deaths, and suicides by gun should lead to change.

■Contrary to what Republicans are saying, we were not better off four years ago — Trump totally mismanaged COVID-19. That led to hundreds of thousands of needless deaths. Being anti-science and opposing vaccines is stupid which is not surprising from a party that supports book banners.

The MAGA Republicans are a cult of personality wedded to the whims of one sadistic man. They stand for whatever he says. How pathetic! There has been much nonsense written about the white working class and their supposed support for Trump. The hard core of MAGA is more made up of up per middle class people and business owners. Some of Trump’s working-class support would desert him if Democrats spoke to them and opposed Wall Street’s greed.

Democrats need to stop being afraid of their shadows. Our views are right on in 2024.