In bad movies, villains like to explain in advance what they’re going to do. And in the bad movie we currently appear to be living in, the Christian Right does that too. Often, the most hateful plans and strategies are discussed openly at their conferences or published in their strategy documents.
A good example of that was the 2017 Values Voter Summit in Washington DC, where the strategy to attack trans people was set out in full: by using a divide and conquer strategy to try and separate the T from the LGB, the Christian Right believed they could use trans people as a wedge against human rights more widely. They would do that in two ways: first of all, by portraying their attempts to remove trans people’s rights as trans people demanding more rights; and secondly, by pushing the message that those rights would remove the rights of others, such as lesbian women and female athletes. As you know, it’s a strategy that so far has been highly successful both in the US and the UK, partly through the Hands Across The Aisle initiative to team up Christian evangelicals with supposedly left-wing feminists and feminist journalists.
If you thought that one was bad, you should see what they’re working on now.
As Brynn Tannehill reports, Project 2025 – a coalition of despicable organisations including our old friends the Heritage Foundation (a key influence on the UK government and the main driver of this project), the Alliance Defending Freedom (a key player in anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and rhetoric on both sides of the Atlantic) and many others – has published a 900-page strategy document that’s truly terrifying and that it hopes will inform the next US presidential term. I’m looking at it here from a trans perspective but it’s also horrifying for Black people, for women, for disabled people and civilisation generally.
“The Mandate for Leadership” is a 920-page document that details how the next Republican administration will implement radical and sweeping changes to the entirety of government… The business wish list calls for eliminating federal agencies, stripping those that remain of regulatory power, and deregulating industries. The president would directly manage and influence Department of Justice and FBI cases, which would allow him to pursue criminal cases against political enemies. Environmental law would be gutted, and states would be prevented from enforcing their own environmental laws.
As Tannehill says, it’s effectively a wish-list for the evangelical right. And their wishes regarding LGBTQ+ people are frightening.
“The Mandate for Leadership” makes eradicating LGBTQ people from public life its top priority.
It’s important to consider the document in its wider context, because at the moment in the US many states are passing laws to restrict people’s access to pornographic content. But the Right’s definition of pornography probably isn’t your definition, because it includes the simple existence of LGBTQ+ people.
So when you read this:
Pornography should be outlawed. The people who produce and distribute it should be imprisoned. Educators and public librarians who purvey it should be classed as registered sex offenders. And telecommunications and technology firms that facilitate its spread should be shuttered.
You need to understand that “it” includes my book, this blog, The Advocate, Autostraddle, the Trevor Project’s suicide hotline and anything else that provides any information whatsoever about LGBTQ+ people. We know this because they’re already trial-running it in the form of laws such as Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation.
And that’s just the beginning. Tannehill:
It could be argued as well that people who are visibly trans in public are pornographic or obscene, because they might be seen by a minor. This understanding of intent is in line with the call to “eradicate transgenderism from public life.”
That eradication is real.
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 (“SOGI”), diversity, equity, and inclusion (“DEI”), 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
The document decries “the toxic normalisation of transgenderism” that it claims is “invading” school libraries and says that its very top priority is to:
Restore the family as the centerpiece of American life and protect our children.
That’s not a dog whistle. That’s a five-alarm wake-up call in a document that sets out very clearly how the Christian Right intends to turn the US into a theocracy.
The question remains: Will they be able to get all of this past the Supreme Court? Perhaps not in the short run. But over time, if given the power, they will replace current justices with those they hand-pick to give them the decisions they want, just as they did to end Roe v. Wade. Conservatives at the Claremont Institute have stated that they intend to seize power for generations and remake the U.S. entirely in their image. The “Mandate for Leadership” is an announcement of their goals, and the roadmap to achieving them.