"Project 2025" paints a bleak picture of our future if Trump wins

The Heritage Foundation is at it again. Their "Mandate for Leadership" tells a terrifying story of what the country will look like under the next conservative president and EVERY queer person needs to be aware.

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Courtney: Hello, everyone, and welcome back. My name is Courtney. I’m here with my spouse, Royce. And together, we are The Ace Couple. And join us, won’t you, for an hour to an hour and a half or so of suffering this week, because I regret to inform you that the Heritage Foundation is at it again. Some of you may recall our four-part series on religious political discrimination against Asexuality. Was that August of 2022?

Royce: Yes, almost all of August.

Courtney: Almost all of August. At the time, what prompted those episodes was obviously the infamous letter signed by 83 conservative religious organizations condemning the Respect for Marriage Act, addressed Mitch McConnell, imploring him to do everything he can to make sure it didn’t go through. Luckily, that didn’t work. We did get the Respect for Marriage Act. That was a good thing. But they specifically cited, in that letter, platonic marriage as something that cannot stand. “If the Respect for Marriage Act goes through, then what’s next? Platonic marriage? Incest?” You know, all those fun talking points they like to throw out.

Courtney: And so, for those of you who missed those episodes, what we did was we went through and combed the websites of all of those 83 organizations to get to the bottom of exactly what they believe, what their goals are. Because — for as much as we talk about individual politicians in this country or individual political parties — there are very, very large, very well-funded, very well-organized organizations like this that play a huge role in behind-the-scenes politics.

Courtney: And one of those organizations was the Heritage Foundation. And something they are spearheading right now is something they’re calling Project 2025. And it paints an awfully bleak picture of what the US’s future could look like if Trump wins the election. I say Trump, as he is clearly the presumptive nominee at this point for the Republican Party, but, truthfully, I want to use this as a means to spotlight the fact that, like, this is not about the one guy. It’s not about who is running for president. We can say all the horrible things in the world about Donald Trump — believe me, we could — but there are organizations that are basically building the conservative playbook that they would like whatever the next conservative president is going to be to adhere to these. So, Trump or not, this is what they are going to be pushing for whomever the next conservative president is — which I hope to all of the deities that that is not going to be the case this election year.

Courtney: So, let’s go through what this Project 2025 actually is, what they’re saying, what their goals are, what they’re doing, and how they’re organizing. Because, as I’ve said time and time again, we need to actually be listening to our political opponents. We need to actually know what they believe, where they’re coming from, what they’re trying to do. Far too many people felt completely blindsided when Roe v. Wade got overturned. There were several people who weren’t super tapped into politics that said, you know, “Where did this come from? I didn’t expect this to ever happen!” And a lot of people were caught off-guard. But organizations just like this have been organizing with that specific goal in mind of overturning Roe for decades.

Courtney: So, that brings us to Project 2025. They have put forth four pillars of this project — the first pillar being a policy book that is now written and published. You can go and read this entire thing, and it is long. It is over 900 pages, written by over 350 conservative leaders. In this Mandate for Leadership is something that they fully intend to just hand over to the next conservative president and say, “Here are the conservatives’ demands.” A quote here from Heritage.org says, “Presidential candidates won’t be able to ignore what the conservative movement demands in this book.”

Courtney: The second pillar of Project 2025 is an online personnel database that they are creating, and this is basically going to be people that they can put in front of the next elected conservative president to say, “Here are the people we would like you to put up for all the positions that the president has any amount of power in deciding.” And I did have to laugh a little bit, because they’re calling it a, quote, “Conservative LinkedIn,” and I don’t want to know what dating looks like on the conservative LinkedIn. [laughs]

Courtney: Their third pillar they’re calling the Presidential Administration Academy, which is… they’re calling it an

Courtney: “interactive on-demand training sessions,” where they’re hoping to quite literally train the next wave of the president’s cabinet, the next wave of all the people that need to be appointed to the next conservative administration. So it’s not so much that they’re consolidating them all in the same place. They’re saying, “These are all our goals. We are getting on the same place. Here is your training guide. Here is what you are to do if you get appointed to any of these positions.”

Courtney: And the fourth and final pillar of this project is taking all of their policy ideas, all of the goals that they have outlined in the Mandate for Leadership, and actually transform them into an active game plan with which to implement all of their goals. And this is going to be super actionable things, like, “Here are the executive orders we’re gonna put in front of the president that we want him to sign. Here are the individual bits of legislation we want to try to pass.” So they’re taking all their goals and actually making them actionable steps.

Courtney: And it’s really… It’s really quite horrifying, because they say here on the Heritage Foundation’s website, in a piece that was also published in The American Conservative, they’re saying that “In 2016, conservatives stood on the verge of greatness,” and that the Donald Trump election was a triumph and it was something they were rather proud of. But they’re saying most of the best accomplishments that happened during the Trump presidency, according to them, happened within the last year of the administration, and they’re chalking that up to the fact that political appointees had a learning curve. They had to figure out what the job was, figure out how to implement their goals — especially because these are folks that are getting appointed to any number of agencies, so they all have different jobs, they all have different goals. And they’re saying, “We can’t have that again. We want Trump to win, and we want every single person he appoints to be someone we have not only chosen, but someone who has been trained by us to implement all of these goals that we’ve outlined in the Mandate for Leadership.” And… whew! Are we ready to get into the Mandate for Leadership?

Royce: Yeah, did you look through all of this?

Courtney: I read many lengthy chunks of it, and I skimmed others. Because, as I said, this is a 920-page document. A lot of it wasn’t a surprise to me because I watch these organizations. I know what they’re saying. I know the sort of tricks. Like, when they’re speaking amongst their own — they’re publishing things on their own website, their own blogs, they’re talking to their own followers — they don’t water down what their goals are the same way as what you sometimes hear in, like, mainstream media or what those conservative talking heads might say on news. Because they will tell you exactly what they want. And it is extreme.

Courtney: And the thing is, too — like, I know there are some of you who clicked on to this episode today who’s like, “Oh, we’re talking about the election. I don’t want to listen to this.” [laughs] I know how miserable this election cycle has already been and will continue to be and how it is just going to get worse and worse leading up to Election Day. I know. I am there with you. I hear it. But it is so important to not tune it all out. But I would argue, like, you don’t need to listen to Trump’s speeches if you can’t stand the sound of his fucking voice, because he’s just not the guy. He is the puppet. We know [laughing] he says things that are completely off the rails all the time. But it’s organizations like this who are actually pulling the strings, and these are the people who he is trying to appeal to to get elected.

Courtney: So in their Mandate for Leadership, promise number one — this is going to sound awfully familiar if you listen to our four-part series. This is the natural conclusion of a lot of the ideations we talked about. Promise number one: “Restore the family as the centerpiece of American life and protect our children.” And the very first sentence says, “The next conservative president must get to work pursuing the true priority of politics: the well-being of the American family” — something we have talked about before.

Courtney: A lot of these conservatives feel as though the American nuclear family — a mom, a dad, and children — that is their answer to all of the world’s ills. That is their answer to poverty. That is their answer to housing and food insecurity. It is their answer to everything. And that is in large part why our tax code, for instance, heavily incentivizes marriage, because they did it by design. They want to incentivize marriage because they want people to get married. And a lot of that does come from a religious background. A lot of these organizations are very fundamentalist Christian. And so they not only believe, “Well, financially speaking, if everybody was heterosexual and everybody got married and started procreating, then the family unit will look out for itself. The parents will support the kids. When the parents get old, the kids will support the parents. And then the government doesn’t have to have any social programs because the family runs everything and the family has it all figured out and the family will care for itself.” So that’s the modern political financial logic behind that.

Courtney: But we’ve also read and seen them taking it to the religious side and saying, you know, “It’s God’s plan to have, you know, the Adam and the Eve. And if humans stop doing this, if we don’t have marriage, if we don’t have a biblical marriage and a straight, pro-creative marriage, then all of society will fall apart and the devil will win. Because this is the only way to, you know, remain holy.” And there’s… I’m not even gonna make the separation of church and state argument in this, because we’ve seen time and time again that the conservatives don’t actually want that or respect it.

Royce: Oh, yeah, there’s hypocrisy in every one of these proclamations.

Courtney: Yeah.

Royce: These are the politicians that claim to carry a Constitution around in their pockets and will mention amendments by name when it suits them.

Courtney: Yeah. And they say here, “In many ways, the entire point of centralizing political power is to subvert the family. Its purpose is to replace people’s natural loves and loyalties with unnatural ones.” So, these are also the folks who… you know, the talking point is, “Conservatives are for less government, small government,” and the reason why they say that is they want basically every individual family to serve as their own governing body. And it’s very misogynistic a lot of times, too. It’s going to be, like, the husband and the father is going to be the religious leader of the family and the head of the household. And, you know, we see that in all of the book bans that we’ve also talked about. Like, the parents want to dictate what their kids can and cannot read, and the parents want to dictate what the schools are teaching, and…

Royce: Yeah. And if we go through criticizing every one of these things, we’re never going to finish this episode, so I’m going to keep that brief.

Courtney: It’s gonna be another four-part series. [laughs]

Royce: Yeah. But society has proven that that doesn’t work. Some parents are abusive. Children and young adults largely don’t have the autonomy that they deserve. These parental rights arguments often just take other parents’ rights away over their children, and there’s a lot of hypocrisy steeped in all of it — a lot of hypocrisy hiding intentional control of others.

Courtney: Mhm. And so they say that “The American family is in crisis. 40% of all children are born to unmarried mothers, including more than 70% of Black children. There is no government program that can replace the hole in a child’s soul cut out by the absence of a father.” And they say, “Fatherlessness is one of the principal sources of American poverty, crime, mental illness, teen suicide, substance abuse, rejection of the church, and high school dropouts.”

Courtney: And they make the assertion, based on these claims, that government programs are created to try to solve these things. There are government programs trying to help mental health. There are government programs trying to combat poverty. But they straight up here say: they can’t, because these are programs that are created by the crisis of marriage and family. They’re saying, fundamentally, none of these are going to work, because the only thing that will fix this is if we bring back the family.

Courtney: And so already, here, this is already bad news for any queer person. We can talk about how it is aphobic — people who don’t want to get married. We’ve certainly talked about how they’ve been acephobic, condemning platonic marriage in the in the past. But even gay couples — gay couples who currently do have the right to get married in the traditional sense in this country. Two women having a child together? They don’t like that. A child needs a father. Like this… It’s only gonna get worse from here, folks.

Courtney: “The next conservative president,” they say, “must understand that using government alone to respond to symptoms of the family crisis is a dead end. Federal power must instead be wielded to reverse the crisis and rescue America’s kids from familial breakdown. The conservative promise includes dozens of specific policies to accomplish this existential task.” And they start by saying, “Some of these are long-term goals we’ve already been working on, like…” They phrase it as “eliminating marriage penalties in federal welfare programs and the tax code,” which is so astonishing to me because if we break down the entire tax code, it does, most of the time, incentivize marriage in the way conservatives do want it to. But when they say, like, “marriage penalties and welfare programs like food stamps,” they’re talking about giving, like, a single mother food stamps. That’s what they’re talking about. They’re like, “You’re not incentivizing that woman to get married and have the proper family because you’re just helping her get food stamps to feed her kids, and that’s not going to help feed her kids because she needs a father.” [laughing] Like, that’s the kind of thing they’re talking about here. Make no mistake about that.

Courtney: And they say, you know, we’ve been doing this for a while, but, quote, “We must go further. It’s time for policymakers to elevate family authority formation and cohesion as their top priority and even use government power, including the tax code, to restore the American family.” I don’t really want to know what they’re thinking outside of the tax code, because I at least know what it looks like in the tax code when they’re like, “We’ll use government power for this.” But they just say, “We must use government power” to make sure people create the, quote, “right type of families.”

Courtney: But then they say… they continue, “The next conservative president must make the institutions of American civil society hard targets for woke culture warriors. This starts with deleting the terms sexual orientation and gender identity; diversity, equity and inclusion; gender; gender equality; gender equity; gender awareness; gender sensitive; abortion; reproductive health; reproductive rights; and any other term used to deprive Americans of their First Amendment rights out of every federal rule, agency regulation, contract, grant regulation, and piece of legislation that exists.”

Royce: So, that’s a big one.

Courtney: That’s a big one!

Royce: That is every…

Courtney: “Let’s delete all these words.” [laughs]

Royce: Every diversity law.

Courtney: And gender equality law. And…

Royce: Well, diversity is a pretty broad word.

Courtney: Yeah. Every single one. Delete it. And this is no uncertain terms. They’re like, “We need to delete these terms from every federal anything that exists.” Wow!

Royce: So, that is an immediate jump into full-on intentional classism.

Courtney: Classism, racism, sexism, queerphobia, the whole shebang. And this is still under their promise number one. They’re also going as extreme as possible on trans issues. Because the very next sentence here is calling it pornography. It starts with, “Pornography, manifested today in the omnipresent propagation of transgender ideology and the sexualization of children…” Which, that “sexualization of children”? They mean trans kids. They mean supporting trans kids. That’s what they mean. And they’re saying that the propagation of transgender ideology, quote, “has no claim to First Amendment protection. Its purveyors are child predators and misogynistic exploiters of women.” They then say, “Pornography should be outlawed,” which, they don’t just mean pornography in the actual pornography sense — although they do mean that too, because that’s a threat to the family.

Royce: They mean literally anything that an extreme conservative person views as sexual.

Courtney: Which is trans people literally existing, or a drag queen literally just performing. Like, it’s repulsive. And straight up saying here, in two different paragraphs — first they say that gender equality and reproductive health are used to deprive American of their First Amendment rights. And then they say “Transgender ideology has no claim to First Amendment rights.” So this is fully authoritarian. This is… And just the deleting of words. “These words cannot exist in the government.” It’s bleak, I don’t know how else to put it.

Courtney: They also say, “The people who produce and distribute pornography,” as their definition of pornography, “should be imprisoned, including educators and public librarians who purvey it should be classed as registered sex offenders. The noxious tenets of critical race theory and gender ideology should be excised from curricula in every public school in the country, because these theories poison our children.”

Courtney: They also say, “Allowing parents or physicians to, quote, ‘reassign’ the sex of a minor is child abuse.” They also say that they need to expand their definition of family issues and that the next president’s agenda must go further than the traditional narrow definition of family issues, which I think is really fascinating. Because on one hand they’re saying, “Small government, because the family should solve all the problems and our main priority should be reinstating the family,” but then they’re like, “We need to expand the definition of family issues.”

Royce: Yeah, they don’t actually believe the things that they’re saying. They’re saying words that they know a large percentage of their user base will agree with and that, in public discourse for moderates or uninformed, will slip under the radar. And then they’re doing what they need to do to gain political power.

Courtney: Mhm. And so, they’re… Expanding the definition of family issues is considering an approach to big tech — which, like, I can agree that there are some issues and we probably need to fix a lot of things with — examples they’re saying here: smartphones, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, social media that’s designed to addict children to phones. Like, they say that “Federal policy cannot allow this industrial-scale child abuse to continue.” But based on their other definitions of child abuse just being “affirming a trans child,” um, I don’t trust people with this definition of child abuse to tackle those issues. I’m sure there are things we can do better. But you can just see in every paragraph of this that, like, “child abuse” and “family issues” — like, those are the magic words that they are going to [laughing] use to leech into any and all policies.

Courtney: And then they say, “Finally, conservatives should gratefully celebrate the greatest pro-family win in a generation, overturning Roe v. Wade. But the Dobbs decision is just the beginning. Conservatives in the states and in Washington, including the next conservative administration, should push as hard as possible to protect the unborn in every jurisdiction in America.” So they want a federal abortion ban. That is their endgame here. That is horrifying. Utterly horrifying.

Courtney: And, like, we have talked about the book bans. We’ve talked about the drag bans .We’ve talked about the attacks on trans rights and gender affirming care. These are things we have talked about. We haven’t talked as much about IVF, but that’s been really relevant lately. And we did mention it in that four-part series a bit, because that is something that came up time and time again, is that they do want to ban in vitro fertilization.

Courtney: And lately, we’ve been seeing these just incredibly frightening and infuriating things happening. We haven’t yet, for example, talked about the Alabama IVF ruling where they’re saying frozen embryos are children and must be treated as such. And when I was reading about the fact that, you know, embryos that got accidentally smashed — like, removed from a freezer and someone dropped it — the way they were talking about it was like… they didn’t even call them embryos. They called them “embryonic human beings,” or sometimes I was even seeing people refer to them as children. And they weren’t using words like “the embryo got destroyed” or “was no longer viable.” They’re using words like, “The embryonic human beings began to slowly die on the floor” — like, really, really melodramatic phrases.

Courtney: And then, of course, there was this whole scare of, like, is IVF even going to be legal in Alabama after the Supreme Court ruling? Are any clinics going to want to do it, even if it’s technically legal, but this is how they’re going to be treating it? And any embryo that doesn’t result in a human being — which, during the IVF process is a lot of them, even removed from accidents like this — is that going to be treated as a wrongful death? And now, since that happened so recently and so many states are in the middle of a legislative session — what, was it South Carolina, I think, that had a legislator trying to pass something saying, “Well, fetuses or embryos should be able to have like insurance policies, because this is a human”?

Royce: I read that one, and I can’t remember where it was from, and I couldn’t tell if they were serious or if they were trying to, like, stop other laws from happening by saying something that was ridiculous. And that shows you where we’re at in the world right now.

Courtney: That is where we’re at. I read several articles also trying to figure that out, because at first I was like, “Of course. This is what conservatives have been going for. This is something they do.” But then I saw it was, like, a Democrat who was posing the law, and I was like, “Is this one of those things where you’re putting in basically a joke or a protest piece of legislation?”

Royce: Yeah. Is this the abortion version of the Baphomet statue —

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: — like, in the middle of, like, a Capitol lawn? But —

Courtney: He seemed serious.

Royce: The one that I read was, I believe, like you said, some sort of insurance — like, life insurance —

Courtney: Mhm.

Royce: — and social security numbers issued.

Courtney: Yes, social security numbers issued, which, seriously? [laughs]

Royce: That’s why I couldn’t tell if it was, you know, an attempt to block other legislation, essentially. Because, yeah, if you take that “life and all human rights begins at conception” to that end goal, you suddenly put an enormous strain on the government to actually do everything they have to do. And that’s not the way we would ideally be getting pushback, but if it could block something from happening… You know, people should not be doing this because it’s wrong, not because it’s too much work.

Courtney: Yeah. And I don’t know. Like, maybe this guy just has the best poker face. But, like, here’s a quote I found from him. Because at first I was like, “Yeah, of course a conservative would do this.” But then I’m like, “Wait, a Democrat did that?” But then I read his quotes, and they seemed dead serious. [laughing] And I was like, “I don’t know anymore! [laughs] It’s impossible to tell.”

Courtney: But the quote — he said, “‘We saw in Alabama where they ruled that frozen embryos could be considered people, and this is one of the things that we need to make sure that we’re protecting individuals here in South Carolina. Because we know we kind of follow suit in these, in these states with introducing legislation,’ continued Representative Johnson. ‘And we want to make sure that people are protected and they have the right to IVF, that we want to protect families however they want to bring forth children and bring forth life. Because life is beautiful and you we just want to make sure we protect these individuals.’” So the fact that he’s saying “We want to protect IVF” tells me this is probably a joke. It’s probably… “joke”’s not even the right word for it, but, like, it’s protest legislation. It sounds like he doesn’t actually want it to go through, but he’s trying to say, like, “These are actually the implications of what you’re saying, if you’re saying these are literally people as much as you and I are, and if we actually start treating them like that in every stage of legislation, you can see how ridiculous it is.”

Royce: “Protest legislation is a good way to put it.” It’s also a form of, like, political malicious compliance.

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: Like, “Okay, let’s take this stupid idea of yours and take it all the way.”

Courtney: [laughs] Oh no!

Royce: “This is where you’re going to land.”

Courtney: And it’s… I mean, this is something I have been saying. Like, trans rights, queer rights, even gay marriage — like, that is something they were trying to attack, and it’s something they are trying to repeal. That’s why they did not want the Respect for Marriage Act to go through, because that was going to be yet another hurdle to undo it once they have the opportunity. But, just like in… The first time Trump was elected, the key issue that they were using to put at the forefront to try to get as many people as possible was, like, “Build the wall,” right? It was “Secure the borders. Build the wall.” And there was a lot of racist and xenophobic sentiment behind that, of course. And that’s still on their agenda. I mean, promise number three is “Defend our nation’s sovereignty, borders, and bounty against global threats.” So that’s still on the table.

Courtney: But the way we’ve been seeing things go — the talking points, the hatred, the pieces of legislation, the culture wars that we’re seeing at every stage of government from school districts to cities to states, federally — the key issue of this election cycle: you can bet your bottom dollar that it is going to be revolving around queerphobia, transphobia, and restoring the family. And I want us all to be able to brace ourselves, because it’s gonna be rough. I don’t want anyone to be completely caught off-guard by it. I don’t want to give any false promises that it isn’t going to be as bad as it might be. But this is what we are going to be up against here.

Courtney: So, promise number four, too: here’s how… I’m trying not to use, like, Orwellian words. [laughing] I’m trying not to say, like, doublespeak, and, you know, but, like, it’s… I have heard people try to make the argument that, like, “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” — that’s a thing we say in America, right? I’ve heard people try to argue that for, like, trans rights, this is that person’s pursuit of happiness. Who are you and who is the government to get in the way of that pursuit of happiness?

Courtney: But their promise number four here is, “Secure our God-given individual right to enjoy the blessings of liberty. And they do the whole Declaration of Independence quoting and “All men are created equal in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” But then they say, “When the founders spoke of pursuit of happiness, what they meant might be understood today as, in essence, pursuit of blessedness. That is, an individual must be free to live as his creator ordained to flourish. Our Constitution grants each of us the liberty to do not what we want but what we ought. This pursuit of happiness, or this pursuit of the good life, is found primarily in the family: marriage, children, Thanksgiving dinners and the like.” I can’t help but feel like “Thanksgiving dinners” is such a slight. Like, that’s racist, right? [laughs] Because why wouldn’t they say “Christmas dinners” or just “dinners with the family at home”? Like, there’s a reason they chose Thanksgiving, and it’s probably because they think we’re trying to cancel Thanksgiving, because… [grumbles]

Royce: I just think it’s funny that amongst adults — like, particularly 30-somethings — Thanksgiving is the “argue with family” holiday.

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: Like, that is the, “I have to sit next to my racist uncle, or whatever. I’m gonna get into a political argument.” Like, that is the, “I’m going to take a day off of work and have a shitty day and drink —”

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: — “and I’ll see you next week.”

Courtney: So, what you’re saying is the conservatives have it all wrong. It’s actually Thanksgiving that’s ruining the American family, and in order to preserve the family, we must abolish Thanksgiving. [laughs]

Royce: I mean, you can take — I would be okay with that.

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: But the idea that you should force people to be together who don’t like being around each other [laughs] is the issue with this strict family unit.

Courtney: Yeah.

Royce: I assume you have more to go on here, but does this say anything about divorce, just out of curiosity?

Courtney: No, actually, I don’t recall reading anything about divorce. But I know that we’ve read from organizations like this before that they consider no-fault divorce to be an attack on the family and an anti-marriage legislation, so.

Royce: Yeah. The reason why I was curious… My memory is only so good for this, but when you started getting into what all of this entailed, I hadn’t looked at any of this beforehand, so I didn’t know exactly what the specific bulleted plan was. But when you mentioned that the first thing mentioned was revolving around their idea of the family unit and the importance of that in society, the first place my mind went to was many years ago, when some sort of information site I was following at the time published I believe it was a 20- or 30-page section out of a large Nazi propaganda booklet that was distributed either during the late 30s or early 40s in Germany. And I had read through this because I took a dedicated World War II class in high school, because my history teacher at the time — the one who taught this elective — was really big into World War II. And she had always stated, like, how surprised she was that the Minister of Propaganda had been so successful at pushing the German population towards this goal. And so I had the idea that this was, like, an extremely well-crafted, manipulative document, you know? The series of…

Courtney: Secret code and propaganda.

Royce: Yeah. It was always built up to be this masterful manipulation. And so — but I had never seen it. I had never actually seen text. Images get passed around. But you look at the text, and it is not subtle.

Courtney: No. [laughs]

Royce: It is — like, the only way this convinced people was that they didn’t have access to the internet. Their information was being controlled. They already had some of these proclivities. And they were fed this information week after week, months after month for years. And it is incredibly similar to what we’ve been seeing in extreme right movements across the world, including here in America.

Royce: And I know that the comparison to Nazi Germany has already been made many years ago, particularly leading up to the 2016 election. But the thing that brought that memory up was one of the things that surprised me in that booklet was how much they emphasized the German nuclear Christian family.

Courtney: Mmm. Mhm.

Royce: They would take images of people in squalor, people in poor health — which, I don’t know where they came from. They honestly might have come from ghettos and concentration camps. They might have been, like, German propaganda operatives taking pictures of the evil that they were doing, and then putting that side by side with a religious German family standing outside of their house with their kids. And they would say, “Look at what the world is like when we don’t have the family unit.”

Courtney: Hmm. Yeah. “The family” is such a loaded word when it’s brought into politics to this extent. [laughs] There’s something that’s just so chilling to me when they’re like, “We should move away from the idea of pursuit of happiness. It should really be the pursuit of blessedness. We should live the way my idea of our creator has ordained. We shouldn’t do what we want. We need to do what we’re supposed to do. Get in line. Be like everyone else.”

Royce: I mentioned I wouldn’t criticize too much, but of course, heavily Protestant America, who ran away from the authority of the Catholic Church, is now like, “We will be your authority.”

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: “We will dictate how you are supposed to practice this religion.”

Courtney: It’s interesting that you go to history and what people have rejected, because they absolutely bring that up here later. But, so, they go on to say, like, “Here’s what actually — like, you don’t know what makes you happy. I know what makes you happy. And what makes you happy is marriage and children. That’s what will make you happy.” So they say that first. But then they also say, “Many find happiness through their work, like dedicated teachers or health professionals. Not the teachers that are foisting pornography upon our kids by saying it’s okay to be gay. ‘Oh, you want to be called Susie now? Okay, I’ll call you Susie now.’ Like, not those teachers. They need to be locked up and registered as sex offenders.”

Courtney: But then they say, “Religious devotion and spirituality are the greatest source of happiness around the world.” So they’re like, “These are the three things that you’re actually free to do under the Constitution is get married, have kids, work, and worship — specifically our God. That’s the important part.”

Courtney: And when they put in the, like, “People find happiness through work,” that is so insidious to me. Because absolutely, later on in this document, they talk about how there needs to be, like, work requirements in order to access any social programs, like food stamps — like, there have to be certain work requirements to get food stamps and things like that. So there’s a heavy dose of ableism in this, also.

Courtney: But yeah, to your point about history and rejection of certain authorities, they literally say here, “Left to our own devices, the American people rejected European monarchy and colonialism just as we rejected slavery, second-class citizenship for women, mercantilism, socialism, Wilsonian globalism, fascism, communism, and, today, wokeism.”

Royce: There are several of those things that this document is trying to bring back.

Courtney: Yeah. I don’t think you know what those words mean. [laughs] But, yeah, it’s… I mean, like I said, this is a massive document. They also — backing up all of these ideologies is training for conservatives to be appointed to various government agencies and actual actionable pieces of legislation and executive orders. So, they have a plan to implement all of these in the government. And they break down individual agencies, too. I certainly don’t have time in a single episode to go through, like, “This is what they want to do with this agency. This is what they want to do with this agency.”

Courtney: But as an example of the sort of thing we’re dealing with here, the Department of Health and Human Services. First of all, they want to rename it the Department of Life and install a pro-life task force. But they say that the next secretary of the HHS should also reverse the Biden administration’s focus on, quote, “LGBTQ+ equity, subsidizing single motherhood, disincentivizing work, and penalizing marriage, replacing such policies with those encouraging marriage, encouraging work, encouraging motherhood, fatherhood and nuclear families.” And, like, again, when they talk about “subsidizing single motherhood,” they’re, like, literally talking about social welfare programs.

Royce: Yes. They’re talking about further social and economic pressure to force people into marriages.

Courtney: Yeah.

Royce: Which, the reason why I asked about divorce, if divorce was specifically mentioned, was because I had just thumbed through — before saying all that about Nazi propaganda — just thumbed through a few notes on that, and a lot of that propaganda was also anti-divorce. So I wondered if that carried over. But if the inclination here is to set up social and economic systems that make it financially difficult to not be married, that puts a lot more pressure on divorce.

Courtney: Mhm. And although I haven’t seen in this any specific plans yet for, I guess, restricting divorce, this country does have a precedence of enacting legislation that makes divorce less accessible. Like, even in Missouri, for example, a pregnant woman cannot get a divorce. If you’re pregnant, you just can’t get a divorce. You have to wait until you have given birth to even begin divorce proceedings. That’s absurd. But that’s one example in this country, so.

Royce: But even when it’s not explicitly outlawed, I think a lot of people who haven’t, I guess, studied much into behavioral psychology — some aspects of user experience get into this, because you start looking at how behavior changes in large numbers when you make very small changes to a system. And adding friction — making things more difficult, even if it’s not making it impossible — can have massive changes in behavior. I guess one example of that that’s been pretty well studied is actually organ donors.

Courtney: Mmm.

Royce: I don’t remember what the number is, but I think it’s around a quarter, maybe a third of people in countries where you have to opt in to donate your organs when you die, and for countries that default organ donorship and you have to opt out, it’s, like, 90-something percent.

Courtney: Mhm.

Royce: Like, massive, massive difference in how it works. And you see a lot of these tactics in our election systems.

Courtney: Mhm.

Royce: Because we legally can’t be prohibited from voting, but it is extremely legal to put a number of roadblocks in place to make it virtually impossible.

Courtney: Yeah. The fact that they talk about “subsidizing single motherhood” as an issue — like, “subsidizing” is such… That’s a word. That’s a word to use. [laughs]

Royce: It’s manipulative. They’re treating social programs, which are designed to keep people out of the deepest depths of poverty — they view them as an incentive to live in that condition.

Courtney: Mhm. That’s where you get all of the malicious lies about, like, “welfare queens” and talking points like that. But yeah, they say, like, “A major goal should be promoting stable and flourishing married families,” stating in no uncertain terms… Which, again, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. This is exactly what we were saying in 2022, and it didn’t start then either. This has been a long time coming. But “Families comprised of a married mother, father, and their children are the foundation of a well-ordered nation and healthy society, and any policy that does not incentivize married families needs to be repealed and replaced.”

Courtney: And then it goes on to talk about working fathers: “Working fathers are essential to the well-being and development of their children.” And again, like, they’re saying marriage is going to fix all of societal’s ills. Because they say, “Fathers insulate children from physical and sexual abuse, financial difficulty or poverty, incarceration, teen pregnancy, poor educational outcomes, high school failure, and a host of behavioral and psychological problems.” Well, I guess my father didn’t get the memo. What the fuck? [laughs] But then they say, “By contrast, homes with non-related ‘boyfriends,’ quote — quote, ‘boyfriends’ — present are among the most dangerous places for a child to be,” and that “The Department of Health and Human Services should prioritize married father engagement in all welfare policies and all health policies.”

Courtney: And they state, “HHS policies should never place the desires of adults over the right of children to be raised by the biological fathers and mothers who conceived them.” So that also sounds like a really sneaky way of saying, like, “We don’t want you to be able to get divorced anymore. Your desire to not be married to this person doesn’t trump that child’s right to be raised by both of you while you’re still married.”

Royce: That’s a strange one. Because that sounds like, again, if someone takes it to the end, it would also upend the adoption system and surrogacy.

Courtney: Well, surrogacy, yes. That’s a component of it. It does state, “In cases involving biological parents who are found by a court to be unfit because of abuse or neglect —” and again, abuse, they’re saying affirming a trans child is abuse, so their definitions of that are, uh, fucked up, to say the least — they say, “The process of adoption should be speedy, certain and supported generously.”

Courtney: However, we’ve seen some really questionable decisions being made about adoption lately in this country too. One recent example was in Tennessee, who passed a bill to basically allow parents who overtly hold anti-LGBTQ beliefs to adopt and foster LGBTQ children. The way it’s written here: so, it says, “The bill will prohibit the Department of Children’s Services from requiring prospective or current adoptive and foster parents to agree with government policies regarding, quote, ‘sexual orientation and gender identity’ that conflicts with their own beliefs.” And it further states that “A parent’s beliefs about sexual orientation and gender identity do not create a presumption that any particular placement is contrary to the best interest of the child.” Are you fucking kidding me? Are you fucking kidding me?

Courtney: So they’re going to — like, if they have their druthers, if everything pans out for them, they get their conservative president. They enact all these things. They put all these people that they have curated and trained in all the open positions they possibly can. They’re going to say, “Alright, you, a single mother who is affirming your trans child. That’s child abuse. And also, you’re a single mother. That’s two strikes against you. We’re going to take your child from you because we deem this to be child abuse. And we’re going to put them with a couple who also thinks this is child abuse, who thinks biological sex is the only thing and gender is just a polite way of saying ‘sex’ —” which, this document says that. They’re like, “Gender is just a polite way of saying ‘sex.’” And they’re going to put that child with abusive people. Because this is abuse. This is abuse. It’s also… I’m inclined to call it conversion therapy.

Royce: It is conversion therapy. It’s household conversion therapy. I was going to go a step further, because —

Courtney: Do it. Take it a step further, Royce.

Royce: You have outlined… What this document has outlined is, basically, they want the government authority to, by their own definition, deem a parent unfit and then take their child and put them with a parent with religious or cultural values that they deem appropriate to be their new parent. And that is one of the tenets of genocide. And they’ve already repeated some, air quotes, “statistics” that are anti-Black.

Courtney: Mhm. Who knows to the extent that they would actually enforce this once it goes through, but these are the views that they are laying out for us. And what also strikes me is they say, “In cases where the biological parents are deemed to be unfit, the process of adoption should be speedy, certain, and supported generously by HHS.” I want to know where fostering comes into that. Because there are a lot of situations where fostering should rightfully be a temporary situation, and the goal should be to get the child back with their parents, if that is a possibility to work toward. But they’re saying, “Oh, no, if we think you are abusing or neglecting your child, we are going to have a speedy and certain adoption process.” I… Go listen to our episode with The Asexual Goddess to hear more about adoption.

Courtney: And, like, most of this, that we’re talking about today, is about the family issues and the anti-queer sentiments and legislation. But, like, make no mistake, there’s a bunch of other things in here that are worth scrutiny. I mean, they want to prohibit stem cell research. They want to… I mean, I already mentioned a federal abortion ban. That’s something they want to do. They want to cancel Head Start as a program.

Royce: What’s that?

Courtney: Oh, you didn’t go to Head Start? I went to Head Start. So, Head Start is… It’s a type of preschool, basically. I mean, I think it started in the ’60s. But the original goal and the original intention for it was for low-income families who couldn’t afford a preschool you had to pay for, potentially a means of childcare if the parents needed to work. I was enrolled in a Head Start program that was supposed to be two years, but after the first year, they were like, “Oh, no, no, she needs to be in kindergarten. She is ready for actual school.” So that’s why I was, like, a year younger than everyone in school and graduated early and all that, because my Head Start teacher was like, “You’d be doing a disservice to keep her here for two years,” but.

Royce: Okay, yeah. I hadn’t heard of that. I went to a preschool. And, I mean, I have no idea what the cost was if there was one, but it was just — it was a small town and it was a church. There was no religious teaching there. I do remember some, like, pre-K learning — like, “Let’s get you ready for kindergarten” sort of stuff — but I think some aspects of it were just more like a daycare.

Courtney: But then, like… [sighs] Also relevant to the ableism and actual public health policies, they have so much talk in this document about all the policies that they want to enact — or rather, make sure never get enacted again — as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because they, in this document, say that “Mask mandates or vaccine mandates are irrational and destructive and un-American.” And they’re also like, “How dare these things get imposed upon ostensibly free people?” And yet these are also the people saying, “Freedom isn’t what you want to do; it’s doing what you’re supposed to do.” [laughs] But what you’re supposed to do isn’t keep other people safe or help mitigate a global pandemic.

Courtney: And talking in their section about the Department of Health and Human Services, they’re straight up saying that “During the COVID-19 pandemic, basic human rights were trampled without scientific justification and for extended periods of time.” They go on to say, “Excess deaths not due to COVID-19 skyrocketed because of the forced lockdowns, isolation, vaccine-related mass firings, and colossal disruptions of the economy and daily rhythms of life.” Mhm. That’s what all those deaths were from. Mhm.

Royce: Yup, those daily rhythms of life led to, what, 20 or 30 million excess deaths worldwide?

Courtney: Well, how are people supposed to be happy if they can’t work? That’s one of the three things you’re allowed to be happy about!

Courtney: And, you know, I think that’s probably about all I can stand to talk about today. But for any of you who want to do your own in-depth research, we will put information in the show notes for you to be able to look at this mandate on your own. As I said, it is over 900 pages. It is a lot. You can do some keyword searching if you’re looking for specific thoughts on specific concepts or policies. But it’s very important to take this very seriously.

Courtney: And I’m sure we’re all going to have a horrible time throughout the rest of this election cycle, so I’m sure we’ll have some equally unfun episodes [laughing] coming in the future, but we’re going to leave off on a high note, as we like to do. Our featured MarketplACE vendor of the week is Auncle Jey’s Demon Emporium, where you can find “DIY Zines and longform comics by some sort of creature.” Auncle Jey is Ace, disabled, neurodivergent, nonbinary, transgender. I really want to focus Auncle Jey today because I recall purchasing just the most lovely little piece of parchment with some artwork featuring the trans flag colors and a very angry looking dragon creature that just says, “Fuck you. Here to stay.” I’m quite fond of it, and I think that’s the theme of… People who are trying to pass legislation like this: we tell them, “Fuck you. We’re here to stay.” So go get you one of those. It’s worth it. There are also lots of fun memes. We got a couple of different memes from this creator. There’s one called “Monster Gender.” There’s one called “Boooobs,” and the cover has an illustration of a skeleton holding up, like, two pumpkins. There’s just, overall, very great stuff from this creator. As always, link in the show notes. Do check them out.

Courtney: And, as always, thank you so much for listening, tuning in. Let’s all try to stay aware and engaged and not tune out, no matter how much we may want to, this election cycle. It is of the utmost importance to our community, to the broader queer community in general, to women, to people of color, to poor people, to disabled people, the list goes on. It is very, very important. So, if you made it to the end of this episode, thank you so much, and we will talk to you all next week.