| The Rose Report |

Who Says Reagan Republicans Are Extinct?

The Reaganites preparing for a Trump second term


the Republican faithful get accustomed to the idea that Donald Trump is days away from securing enough delegates to win his third straight presidential nomination, a goodly percentage are lamenting that the party of Ronald Reagan they once knew and loved is defunct.

Well… as Reagan might have begun, don’t jump to hasty conclusions.

The Heritage Foundation — the same Washington think tank that crafted the 1981 “Mandate for Leadership” that Reagan embraced — has devised a bold new agenda for Trump. Dubbed “Project 2025,” the initial goal is “to assemble an army of aligned, vetted, trained, and prepared conservatives to go to work on Day One to deconstruct the administrative state.”

Project 2025 commissioned more than 400 scholars nationwide to produce 30 chapters and almost 900 PDF pages analyzing every phase of governance, both domestic and international. Many pundits still credit the Heritage Foundation with supplying Reagan the intellectual firepower that enabled him to debilitate the Soviet Union and discredit a half-century of liberal policies.

Heritage Foundation leaders are political conservatives who often maintain a distance from Trump personally, but who view him as their best bet to drain the swamp, as Trump might say. Project 2025 frightens progressive and uber-liberal Democrats because it invalidates positions near and dear to them.

For example, Project 2025 proposes to ultimately dismantle the federal Department of Education in favor of state-run and municipal programs that would empower students and their families. Project 2025 also shuns the global efforts to impose unenforceable environmental standards on the economy, instead supporting state and local programs to clean up environmental hazards and supply clean air and water.

American foreign policy would shift dramatically under Project 2025. Kiron Skinner, an African-American Republican who served in the State Department as Trump’s director of policy planning, authored a 29-page brief in which she noted the constant tug of war between entrenched left-wing bureaucrats who are “predisposed to disagree with a conservative president’s policy agenda and vision.”

Skinner says the US must ensure that “Israel has both the military means and the political support and flexibility to take what it deems to be appropriate measures to defend itself against the Iranian regime and its regional proxies Hamas, Hezbollah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.” She also proposes a Middle East security pact that includes Israel, Egypt, the Gulf states, and potentially India to counter Iran and other bad actors.

Red Lines and Green Lines

Israel got a little taste last week of Project 2025 ideas when the Trump campaign quietly dispatched retired Lieutenant-General Keith Kellogg to Israel. Kellogg met with cabinet ministers, including Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer, who is Binyamin Netanyahu’s point guard for managing relationships with the US.

Unlike President Biden — who told MSNBC that an IDF invasion of Rafah would cross a red line for him, and who is similarly obsessed with everything Israel does over the Green Line — Kellogg, who also served as Vice President Pence’s national security advisor, was one of the first to notice that even during Biden’s solidarity visit to Israel after October 7, the president was already hedging his support for Israel with public admonishments and “by raising irrelevant and counterproductive ideas and proposals, such as a two-state solution and endorsing the Palestinian Authority.”

There is no way of knowing if people such as Skinner and Kellogg will play a role in a second Trump administration. Trump himself has said very little publicly about the Israel-Hamas war, other than insisting that it wouldn’t have happened on his watch.

Well… as Reagan might have said, it did happen, and Trump will have to deal with the aftermath if he wins in November. Trump did encourage Israel last week, telling an audience in Palm Beach, Florida, “You’ve got to finish the problem.”

Afterward, NBC News quoted Karoline Leavitt, Trump’s national press secretary, saying: “When President Trump is back in the Oval Office, Israel will once again be protected, Iran will go back to being broke, terrorists will be hunted down, and the bloodshed will end.”

A Weaponized Behemoth

If Trump is reelected, he will try to do as much as he can, as quickly as he can, via executive orders. He scared liberals and even many conservatives when he told an Iowa rally last December that he would only be a dictator on day one of his new administration. But just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, Washington won’t be demolished in a day. Although that won’t stop Trump from trying.

Paul Dans, director of Project 2025, contends that “the federal government is a behemoth, weaponized against American citizens and conservative values, with freedom and liberty under siege as never before.” He says history teaches that “a president’s power to implement an agenda is at its apex during the administration’s opening days,” and that agenda “requires a well-conceived, coordinated, unified plan and a trained and committed cadre of personnel to implement it.”

Project 2025 gives Trump a head start, having devised a consensus view of how major federal agencies must be governed and having developed a personnel database to be shared with Trump’s transition team to streamline the appointment process. Experienced appointees will attend in-person seminars to set expectations for senior leadership, and newcomers will attend an online “Presidential Administration Academy,” where they will learn how a government functions and how they need to function in government.

Opposition to revolutionary change will be stiff.

The Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank, surveyed the efforts of past presidents who also set goals of overseeing executive reorganization. While everyone favors the idea of lean government in the abstract, “the iron law of reorganization is that the intensity of a stakeholder’s interest is often inversely proportional to the size of the stake at risk. No unit of government is so obscure or redundant that an agency head or member of Congress will not stoop to defend it.”

For Trump to drain the swamp, he will need Republicans of all stripes — Trumpians, and the Reagan variety — to turn out in force in November. His task will be much easier if Republicans take control of the House and the Senate and oust as many of the old entrenched stakeholders as possible.

If we learned anything at all from the 2020 elections, it’s that the Democratic Party will pull out all the stops to get out the vote too. The battle might just be won by the party that’s able to sign up the majority of the nation’s estimated 70 million unregistered voters and motivate them to participate in the most important act a democracy offers its citizens.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 1003)

Oops! We could not locate your form.