The next conservative president will face a monumental task keeping his promises to the American people in the face of a hostile entrenched bureaucracy, but a coalition of conservative leaders and former political appointees has compiled a game plan to equip him or her to restructure the federal government to make it more cost effective, high-performing, and accountable to the people.
The 2025 Presidential Transition Project, also known as Project 2025, “does all the legwork that no president-elect has had the chance to do, at least on the conservative side,” Rick Dearborn, former White House deputy chief of staff to President Donald Trump and a visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal in an interview Wednesday. (The Daily Signal is The Heritage Foundation’s news outlet.)
Dearborn, the primary author of the report on the White House Office in the Project 2025 book “Mandate for Leadership,” noted that “most of the time, the person or people that come in to run a transition, it’s their first time doing it.”
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Many federal employees support big government policies, in part because such policies benefit the administrators. President Trump faced stiff headwinds from a hostile federal bureaucracy he often referred to as “the deep state.”
“The advantage that most liberal presidents have is that from day one, that whole behemoth is helping them move their agenda,” Dearborn noted. Liberals “burrow in and they’re in the government and they’re pushing their agenda and they’re pushing what that particular liberal president wants to do.”
“Most good conservative presidents don’t really get it all figured out until the end of their second term,” the former deputy chief explained.
He laid out the four pillars of Project 2025, which does not just represent The Heritage Foundation alone but “the entire conservative movement.”
Pillar 1: Mandate for Leadership
The book, “Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise,” represents the first pillar of the strategy, Dearborn explained. The book, to which more than 450 authors contributed, runs nearly 900 pages long, with in-depth explanations and recommendations for various aspects of the federal government, from the White House Office to the Department of Health and Human Services to the Intelligence Community, and so much more.
“What are the roles of the White House Office? Who sits in what seat? What is that position designed to do? What are you looking for in terms of staffing that particular White House council or head of your Domestic Policy Council or your senior advisers?” Dearborn said, explaining the chapter he edited.
This in-depth treatment of the administrative state, peppered with major policy changes such as splitting the Centers for Disease Control into two separate agencies, represents merely one of the four pillars, however.
Pillar 2: People Are Policy
Project 2025 isn’t just publishing a book—it’s also compiling a list, and checking it far more than twice.
“I think it all starts with the people,” Dearborn said. “Conservatives have never had a large number collected in one spot of conservative scholars and academics and policy experts that you could just pull off the shelf and say, ‘Okay, if you’re going to populate the Department of Defense, here are the five people that really understand the conservative philosophy on how to promote and protect our national security.’”
The project aims to create a database including at least 10,000 people, the former deputy chief explained.
Pillar 3: Training
Project 2025 does not just intend to compile a list of strong potential appointees; it also aims to train these people for the jobs they would take under a conservative president, Dearborn explained.
“You have to find people that know what they’re doing, know where the bodies are buried, have their hands on the levers to actually push the programs that help make the agenda move,” he said. “If you don’t have that, you get stuck and you just start running around in a circle.”
If the good conservatives who might fill the key political positions don’t know what they need to know, Project 2025 will step in and equip them.
Pillar 4: Executive Orders
Project 2025 is also compiling an appendix to equip a future conservative president on policy.
“When you write an executive order, when you’re working on a regulation, if you want to roll back a regulation, if you want to promote a program, if you want to work with outside government-affiliated groups, how does this work?” Dearborn asked. The appendix aims to answer these questions and give “some game plans that they can use so that they’re not having to build them from scratch from day one.”
Dearborn said he wishes that the Trump transition team had a book like “Mandate for Leadership” in 2016.
He noted that Project 2025 will be meeting “with all of the different current announced conservative presidential candidates” and some who “may not have yet announced, providing them a book, and walking through what the different pillars are.”
“If I’m any of those campaigns, I’m going to completely just scoop this up and want to learn as much as I possibly can about it and make sure that the Project 2025 team understands we really want your input,” Dearborn added.
A Call to Action
The former deputy chief urged conservatives to join Project 2025 in a concrete way.
“Join the movement, sign up for the database, take the training, look at the book,” he said. “Where are you an expert? If you want to impact your government, if you want to push a strong conservative agenda, join us. Be part of the effort.”
Listen to the interview here:
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