People For the American Way

The MAGA Enemies List is Growing, and So Are the Odds That You’re On It

The MAGA Enemies List is Growing, and So Are the Odds That You’re On It
Image: Gage Skidmore / Flickr

First published in The Hill.

As the Republican primaries slog toward the climax of a likely Trump nomination, I can’t help thinking that we as a country are still dramatically underreacting to the MAGA threat. The fact that Trump has even made it this far is proof of that.

When will we wake up?

I’ll say this: One thing that wakes you up is seeing your name on an enemies list.

When I was 12, the Columbine High School massacre happened. A troubled kid in my upstate New York school was apparently influenced by the shooting and decided to make his own list of kids he wanted to shoot, with a rifle he already owned.

I was “the Black kid” at school and I was first on his list. Fortunately, administrators found out before anything could happen. I don’t know what ultimately happened to that boy later in life, but I do know he was taken out of our school.

Meanwhile, I found out how scary it felt to have my name on a list like that. It took racial hatred out of the realm of the theoretical and into the practical, really fast.

So, I wonder, how many Americans realize they are on Trump’s enemies list? And I wonder if our collective response would be different if more people knew they could be targeted and their lives upended.

To find out who’s targeted, all you have to do is refer to a 900-page “Mandate for Leadership” produced for Project 2025, the effort led by the right-wing Heritage Foundation and supported by almost 100 Trump-supporting groups. It’s a blueprint for the authoritarian Republican administration they hope is coming next.

The project, “backed by a multimillion-dollar war chest,” has been described as a plan that “would enable Trump to wield virtually unchecked power over the executive branch of the federal government and allow him to use it as a weapon against personal enemies, political opponents and the media.”

And while it’s starting to get more attention, I’m surprised at how little everyday Americans know about it — even in well-informed circles.

Certainly, Trump’s highest-profile political opponents know. They would be in the crosshairs of a weaponized Department of Justice because the plan’s call for total presidential control of executive departments would end 50 years of an independent Department of Justice.

Journalists know too, for the same reason and because a top Trump advisor openly says they would be prosecuted.

But how about the nonpartisan civil servants who make our government tick, who would be slated for firing and replacement by people chosen for their loyalty to Trump? By some estimates, 50,000 employees could be purged.

What about millions of people, many of whom must have voted for Trump, who want access to no-fault divorce, birth control or fertility care such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF)? All these things — and of course, abortion (with 199 negative mentions in the Mandate for Leadership)  — could be off the table under a Project 2025 that explicitly calls for government power to be deployed to “restore the American family.”

This is before we even get to immigrants, at risk of mass internment and deportation, and peaceful protesters, at risk of being crushed by military forces under the Insurrection Act.

It’s before we get to LGBTQ Americans, who would be living in a country where trans people “should be expelled from military service” and religious business owners should be able to ignore nondiscrimination laws.

The harm to all kinds of people could seep into every corner of society. Attacks on schools and colleges are part of the plan, and not just because of overt conservative Republican support for book banning. One of the most chilling proposals comes from another document, Trump’s “Agenda 47.” That plan actually calls for taxing, fining and suing” the endowments of top universities (you read that right) and using the money to build a sprawling “American Academy” offering online education with “no wokeness” included.

Astounding, but true.

The New York Times recently published results of a focus group in which 11 out of 13 undecided voters said they would vote for Trump, seemingly because they “didn’t blame Trump for things he was responsible or accountable for.”

For example, they were upset about losing abortion rights but didn’t connect the dots to Trump’s Supreme Court appointments. New York Magazine picked up the survey and warned that “Trump Is Preying on Low-Information Voters.”

I’m afraid that could be true. We might have too many people who think Trump’s agenda for a second term is “build the wall” and “drill, drill, drill.” It’s not.

Maybe we’d be much more concerned — and be more motivated to act — if we realized just how many of us and our friends, acquaintances and loved ones are already on the enemies list.


Donald Trump, MAGA