The Vision Thing

I still remember when George H.W. Bush introduced the phrase “the vision thing” into political discourse. (Bush, of course, was routinely criticized for deficits in the vision department.) This year, we have Presidential candidates who offer us dramatically different “vision things.”

President Biden has been explicit about his goals–his “visions” of a fair America. Perhaps the best summary of his vision comes from his often-employed phrase “from the middle out.” Biden wants to strengthen and increase the middle class by ensuring the availability of jobs paying living wages, and by supporting the full inclusion of women and minorities in the workforce and civic life (those “DEI” efforts hysterically denounced by MAGA folks).

Although Trump’s “vision” is difficult to discern from his incoherent speeches and verbal tics, it’s easy enough to see the autocratic and racist goals communicated through his rambling word-salads. Those who want more comprehensible specifics about his  plans for a second term need only consult the Heritage Foundation plan endorsed by his campaign: Project 2025. Project 2025 is a compendium of chilling and profoundly anti-American policies that the radical Right has long pursued–including use of the military to round up dissidents and immigrants, federal laws banning abortion and favoring a White male patriarchy, and numerous other policies inconsistent with civic equality and civil liberties.

Trump’s “vision” can be illustrated by Project 2025’s approach to urban life. The Guardian recently reported on a section describing the proposed “handling” of so-called “sanctuary cities.”  

Trump has for years railed against cities, particularly those run by Democratic officials, as hotbeds for crime and moral decay. He called Atlanta a “record setting Murder and Violent Crime War Zone” last year, a similar claim he makes frequently about various cities.

His allies have an idea of how to capitalize on that agenda and make cities in Trump’s image, detailed in the conservative Project 2025: unleash new police forces on cities like Washington DC, withhold federal disaster and emergency grants unless they follow immigration policies like detaining undocumented immigrants and share sensitive data with the federal government for immigration enforcement purposes.

Project 2025’s Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise, an extensive document breaking down each part of the federal government and recommending changes to be made to advance rightwing policy, was created by the Heritage Foundation, with dozens of conservative organizations and prominent names contributing chapters based on their backgrounds.

This part of the project is another Republican attempt at a crackdown on so-called “sanctuary” cities, places around the country that don’t cooperate with the federal government on enforcing harsh immigration policies.

A prime target is Washington DC. Trump’s stump speech includes accusing the city of crime, graffiti and general mismanagement–and promising that the federal government will take over the city and run it. Since Trump’s own incompetence at running anything is fairly obvious, Project 2025 maps out the “how.” It includes using the Secret Service to police the city–despite the fact that, under current law, the Secret Service lacks any authority to enforce laws outside the White House and its immediate surrounding area. (“Laws can be changed…”)

It isn’t just D.C.

The article noted that Trump has called America’s cities “uninspiring” and has talked about building “freedom cities” on federal lands–  new cities (with flying cars!) that would be erected on unspecified vacant, federally owned land. He’s invited local leaders to work with him to get rid of “ugly buildings” and build new monuments to “our true American heroes”.

(When I read these remarks, I had a sudden, nauseating vision of cities composed of multiple, garish Trump towers erected on “vacant” national park land, populated by “freedom-loving” White men and their “tradwives.” I’m not sure who’d work in the restaurants of this city, since there wouldn’t be any of those brown-skinned immigrants…but then, Right-wing fantasies have never been noted for their logic…)

I am one of many Americans who do find the nation’s cities inspiring. As I have previously noted, my husband and I live in the urban center of our city–where an increasingly diverse population routinely introduces us to new foods, new musical and artistic trends, and new political and religious perspectives. Our city–like most American cities–is currently experiencing a blossoming of cultural and sporting offerings, and women and minority folks are prominent in government and business, as well as in sports and the arts.

In short, my everyday urban experience is the antithesis of the Rightwing’s wet dream of returning to the 1950s.

The terrifying goals described in Project 2025 illustrate the vast gulf between the visions of MAGA folks and the rest of us. In November, voters won’t simply choose between partisan candidates. We will choose between incompatible visions of America’s future.


  1. At last; someone on Facebook created the perfect word to describe the basic view of current conditions in our media sources. “Pisstified”; pissed and mystified as to what we are faced with day after day; the media is even interviewing Trump supporting voters to explain, in his “vision” and words, why they support him. Proving that Trump deserves the free campaign time on air and joined by his supporters who seek his Dictatorship as this entire nation’s future. The Robin Hood philosophy paraphrased to “Take from the poor and give to the rich.” is ruling our day-to-day existence for the majority of Americans. We have a President who wants to strengthen democracy, Rule of Law and support the Constitution for all. We at low-to-middle-income voters outnumber the wealthy but apparently not the supporters of Trump’s criminal source of wealth voters who donate to pay his legal fees. To me, this is the “Godfather vision” of leadership, the 21st Century version of Fascism and we have our own Hitler with bleached hair and spray tan leading his “family” to victory in November.

    “The terrifying goals described in Project 2025 illustrate the vast gulf between the visions of MAGA folks and the rest of us.”

    Like it or not, WE are the good Americans who have replaced the good Germans of the 1930s; allowing evil to lead by doing little or nothing and later will state we knew nothing about it.

  2. I saw a few Joe and Jane six pack tv interviews following the Trump guilty verdict. Those were not encouraging.

  3. Leave it to Beaver, Father knows best, wow, that was a fantasy then and even more so now.

    The booze, the lying, the cheating, the racism, the misogyny, yep, it sounds like the rear view mirror as being viewed through a rose-colored filter. Back to the Future? No thanks!

    In the ’40s and ’50s, the hanging trees loaded with purple fruit, is something that I’m sure certain individuals would love to get back to.

    Unvarnished history something that very few people would like to revisit. Unvarnished history can show everyone exactly what previous societies went through looking through that rose colored lens.

    There has to be a reason for all of the problems society is involved in right now? The tens of thousands of people in this country gunned down by your fellow citizens? Casual murder for sport? A certain leniency that allows folks to circumvent laws and parameters, a hold on inclusion, erecting boundaries to prevent interaction and understanding of your fellow man!

    Good leaders, and good public servants, will always follow the law. They set the examples, they become role models, but those role models can work both ways. If they’re poor role models, you’re going to get a flood of poorly functioning citizens. Citizens that feel they are entitled to more than their fellow citizens.

    When the examples at the top soon to be able to get away with felonious activity, What happens? Look at typical ’50s family whose father was an abusive drunkard, the wife was subservient, and the kids listened to the constant din of violence in the home. And when those kids had their own families, There was no accountability for actions. Because it would just blame it on The progenitor that they emerged from.

    You can’t have a vision looking forward to create something better, while looking backwards in that rear view mirror through a rose colored filter.

    If you’re constantly looking backwards longingly, you definitely are not going to see where you are going. That’s just a catastrophe waiting to happen.

  4. Regarding the uproar over Trump’s 34 guilty verdicts: the MAGA nut jobs want “states’ rights” until they don’t. Fine, as long as they can use it to make the libtards’ heads explode. Not so much when it makes their own heads explode.

  5. John, I’m not sure where you grew up, but, although my father was a misogynist, my life and those of my neighbors wasn’t anywhere near what you described in the 1950s. It doesn’t do any good to simply trade your rose colored glasses for blackout glasses.

    What we have to do is to vote the far right out! If we can’t do that, we only have ourselves to blame. I’m not going to say vote blue, no matter who. I am going to say research your candidates. Know who and what you’re voting for and at the very least consider the eventual outcome of your vote.

  6. I’m curious about this “tradwife” concept. Must be a new word because I’ve never heard of it before. When it comes to the Heritage Foundation (the Koch-creator of Obamacare), you have to know that their motives are always hidden underneath a pro-patriotic theme. It’s all target-marketing and propaganda.

    What’s the true motivation behind Project 2025?

    The definition of man and woman was more distinct in the 50s. The roles were spelled out and society supported those roles. The labor market is completely different today. The oligarchs don’t pay high enough wages for a sole earner to support the entire family because the cost of living is much higher.

    Remember, everything with the Heritage Foundation is “market oriented.” The markets are Gods. So, what is their true motive because it is NOT the bible for them?

  7. Peggy – re your comment “What we have to do is to vote the far right out! If we can’t do that, we only have ourselves to blame.”.

    Stating that ‘we only have ourselves to blame’ doesn’t take into consideration the extreme amount of gerrymandering in states like Indiana that has decimated the possibility of Dems winning elections for even the most local offices in rural counties.

  8. I just would like to say if you want to help the middle class help out with affordable housing and groceries. Affordable childcare could also help.

  9. Trump lies about a lot of things, but not his promises of a White, Christo-fascist dystopia. Don’t let “flooding the zone with shit” and the incompetency of his first administration make you believe that his most outlandish, terrifying blather about an authoritarian state can’t possibly be a promise he could even remotely keep. We didn’t think he’d be nominated in 2016, and then we didn’t think he could really be elected. Remember?

    Also remember that state-wide offices can’t be controlled through gerrymandering, and keep in mind that Indiana ranks 50th out of 51 in voter turnout. We don’t have to put up with Braun, Banks, Rokita, et. al. if we just show up and vote. Heck, with a high enough turnout, even some red districts might become competitive.

  10. Suzanne,

    You are onto the vision that neither party wants to be a part of. I would add:

    – Fair taxation for the rich and corporations
    – Increased oversight over pricing of essentials like fuel and groceries
    – Crackdown on big pharma controls of drug pricing
    – Crackdown on US sales of guns to gangs in Central America
    – More judges and officials to speed up immigration
    – Reduce Federal subsidies to Big Oil and Big Ag

    Never gonna happen. Those folks above fund ALL the pols of both parties.

  11. the “ugly buildings” comments puts me in mind of the totally uninspiring Third Reich style of architecture.
    Todd, I think the true motivation IS their version, “vision?,” of Christianity, plain and simple; not the ’40’s or ’50’s, but the 1200’s, give to take.
    Patrick, you are too right about Trump’s sicko plans.
    Yes, JoAnn, the 4th Reich, as subsumed in my first sentence. I recall reading, years ago, that Trump keeps a copy of “Mein Kampf” handy. If so, and it may just have been an unfounded rumor, it may be the only book he’s ever perused.

  12. Peggy, If you looked deeply into my poor, integrated (yes, there was such a thing), working class ,urban neighborhood in the late ’50s, you would have found lots of alcoholism, verbal and physical abuse as well as misogyny, homophobia and to some degree, xenophobia. Catholics and POC were neighbors who experienced intimidation by the Klan flyers left on windshields, warning of the threats the “other” would bring if allowed.
    When physical abuse by an alcoholic partner was reported to the police, the abused spouse was told to not provoke the abuser. (Personal experience)
    My working mother could not have a checking account without the sign off by her spouse. We went for years without a car, sometime no TV or phone. It was a reflection of the marginalization that deep poverty, mental disabilities and discrimination brings.
    It was any but an idealistic life for those caught in it. Children had no control and little to show them a way out. They reacted to the present circumstances, proactive options were almost non-existent.
    Those who long for those times didn’t live through them. If they did and fail to recognize the extreme inequality of those times, it is because they were privileged or are just delusional.

  13. As justice (president) of my law school fraternity in 1954-5 my vice justice and I spotted a black student we wanted to rush and have join our fraternity, a chapter that had never before had a fellow fraternity member who was black. My vice and I were, of course, liberal Democrats. The word got out and we were called for a meeting of fraternity alums who were practicing, and who asked us if we were sure we wanted “to do this thing.” We said yes, initiated Bob, and he went on to graduate and get into the practice, and prospered.

    There was a muted racism extant in the 50s, and it still exists. What makes us uncomfortable is that Trump has given permission to uncover what already exists, which is destructive of our pretense, and even though he is himself a racist. He is an expert projectionist in that most nearly everything bad he claims that Democrats do is a projection of what he is doing, has done and will be doing if not contained at the ballot box. VOTE!

  14. Trump hates these United States. The Constitution. The Federal government. The blue states and cities. Religion. All shades of skin but white. All cultures except for country club. All democracies. Females. The Judicial Branch. All people who tell him no. Europe. Democrats. Independents. News media.

    That’s not an inclusive list but what’s left?

    He certainly would be as easy character to act like. No depth except for the universality of his hate.

  15. seems life was easier when we spoke face to face,and respected others views. now its a media style headline everywhere (free ink anyone?)and who can jerk your chain harder. weve come to a info overload and mindless crap overload. no reset unless it pisses wall street off..

  16. Miss Peggy,
    The ’40s and ’50s gave rise to children growing up in one parent household. The second world war and Korean war guaranteed that. It was the beginning of the television nanny, and extreme leniency to prevent turmoil within the home.

    Children became more familiar with racist concepts, and larger than life big screen role models that many turned out to be the worst among us. I’ve already written about this before, doesn’t take much research.

    Back in those 40s and ’50s, spare the rod and spoil the child was a huge portion of child rearing. Except, the scriptural rod did not mean to beat your children with it, which is what many actually did, the rod was for measuring. Giving your child the full measure of your love and wisdom, compassion and empathy! Is completely damaged that generation, and it turned the generation of the ’60s carried very little moral culpability which carried over into later generations. Street gangs became a huge part of life back then, because of the camaraderie and perceived structure. Somewhere to belong!

    I was born in Chicago, raised between Chicago, and Lancaster Palmdale Edwards Air Force Base in California. My father was a street brawler who ended up having to go into the military by court order. The middle of the Korean conflict. That changed his perception of life, and he became a different person, at least that’s what my mom says.

    Society receives, what it puts into it. If you put in garbage you get garbage. And for quite a while the society has been receiving garbage, because all it gets is trash.

    Programs put in place to make life better for some of the least of us, are being rolled back faster and faster every year. If you think that because someone lives in a liberal state, or claims to be liberal-minded, or that they’re a Democrat, are swell folks? Or the day are somehow better than the others? Absolutely mistaken on that account. The nice thing about being a mixed race person, you hear a lot of both sides. And those who claim to be liberal, are really closet antagonistic bigoted reprobates. Not that anyone had to tell me, because I heard it with my own ears. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. So my vision is probably a lot different than some of the other folks that comment on here.

    When there really is no moral code anymore, because limitations have been removed, anything goes, do what you please, take what you want, just be you! Extreme Me’ism, because what you want means more than what everyone else wants. And that just doesn’t come from one side of the coin, it comes from both.

    And personally, IMHO, I see no appropriate role models, I see no moral stalwarts, I see no non-profits who actually are non-profits working for those who need help. I see no welfare of the people, The words of the Bill of Rights are a sham just like every other major document on human and equal rights written.

    How can a constitution be written by wealthy white slave owning landowners? And then expect these things to be translated in an appropriate manner for hundreds of years? Well, you see what you get! You can call it hypocrisy, you can call it Kabuki theater, you can call it anything you like, but not loving, compassionate, or empathetic.

    Love your neighbor as yourself? Well, Christ thought it was a good idea!

    Obviously for all of those scriptural haters out there, that must have been a load of BS. And that’s too bad, because basically, that simple statement is morally and
    courageously stalwart!

  17. John Sorg,

    Well said. So, given this past week’s conviction….what would Jesus say?

    Also, a more general comment…so many commentators are making a big deal about the verdict being from “a jury of his peers”, a bedrock part of US democracy, It don’t matter when respect for all “institutions” is nearly gone. No big deal to deny.

  18. Thomas Friedman has a very insightful editorial in today’s New York Times (June 1). I strongly recommend it.

    My opinion, totally unrelated to the recommendation above, is that the only biblical character having any similarity to tfg (Trump) is the “anti-Christ.”

  19. Lester,
    I guess one would have to read the book of Matthew. Concerning what Jesus would say. Even if one just read his parables. Which were used for teaching the general public. The vineyard workers, the prodigal son, the vineyard workers, the Good Samaritan, the list is long. Even his comment about rich men being like a camel walking through the eye of a needle. Matthew the 24th chapter is an interesting read.

    What would Moses have to say? Leviticus is a good book for that, so is Exodus. King David and King Solomon, Psalms and Proverbs.

    “However, the inspired utterance says definitely that in later periods of time some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to misleading inspired utterances and perverted teachings, by the hypocrisy of men who speak lies, marked in their conscience as with a branding iron [feelingless, seared, so that they do not feel any twinges of conscience because of hypocritically speaking lies.”
    Paul later wrote to Timothy that “there will be a period of time when they will not put up with the healthful teaching, but, in accord with their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves to have their ears tickled; and they will turn their ears away from the truth.”​—2Ti 4:3, 4.

    The apostle Peter drew a parallel between the apostasy from Christianity and that which occurred in the natural house of Israel. He said: “However, there also came to be false prophets among the people, as there will also be false teachers among you. These very ones will quietly bring in destructive sects and will disown even the owner that bought them, bringing speedy destruction upon themselves. Furthermore, many will follow their acts of loose conduct, and on account of these the way of the truth will be spoken of abusively.” Peter goes on to point out that these would exploit the congregation but that “the destruction of them is not slumbering.”​—2nd Peter 2:1-3.

    A composite “man.” The “man” of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 is, therefore, not an individual, but a composite “man,” a collective group, as the foregoing scriptures show, and this “man” was to continue after the apostles’ death.

    Treason…. The “lawlessness” that this composite apostate “man” commits is lawlessness This “man” is guilty of treason. He is called “the son of destruction.”

    Paul speaks of “the thing that acts as a restraint.” (2nd Thessalonians 2:6) It appears that the apostles constituted this restraint. Paul had told the Ephesian overseers that after his going away wolflike men would enter in. (Acts 20:29) He repeatedly wrote admonitions about such apostasy not only here in Second Thessalonians but in many exhortations to Timothy. And he counseled Timothy to commit the things he had heard from Paul to faithful men who would be qualified to teach others. He spoke of the congregation of the living God as being “a pillar and support of the truth.” He wanted it built up as strongly as possible before the great apostasy blossomed out.​—2ndTimothy 2:2; 1stTimothy 3:15.

    Much later, at the command of Christ, the apostle John was told to write, warning against sects, mentioning especially the sect of Nicolaus and speaking of false prophets like Balaam and of the woman Jezebel who called herself a prophetess.​—Re 2:6, 14, 15, 20.

    At work in apostles’ days. The apostle Paul said that the mystery was “already at work.” (2nd Thessalonians 2:7) There were those trying to teach false doctrine, some of these even disturbing the Thessalonian congregation, prompting, in part, the writing of his second letter to them. There were antichrists when John wrote his letters, and doubtless before that. John spoke of “the last hour” of the apostolic period, and said: “Just as you have heard that antichrist is coming, even now there have come to be many antichrists . . . They went out from us, but they were not of our sort; for if they had been of our sort, they would have remained with us. But they went out that it might be shown up that not all are of our sort.”​ 1st John 2:18, 19;

    “Following the apostles’ death, “the man of lawlessness” came out into the open with his religious hypocrisy and false teachings. (2nd Thessalonians 2:3, 6, 8) According to Paul’s words, this “man” would gain great power, performing “every powerful work and lying signs and portents.” Persons deceived by the operation of the composite “man of lawlessness” are referred to as “those who are perishing [literally, “destroying themselves”], as a retribution because they did not accept the love of the truth that they might be saved.” The apostle shows that they “get to believing the lie” and they will all “be judged because they did not believe the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2nd Thessalonians 2:9-12”

  20. Isn’t it about time that we look at ALL people and realize that 90% of them simply want to house, feed, clothe and educate their families, all in good faith, whatever that faith may be? Politics does not enter into any of that thinking and it’s time that we, the “public”, stop mixing politics with religion. A supreme being, whatever you want to call him/her, is there for ALL people, in whatever form. However, that supreme being does not rule here on earth, man does and it’s about time we stopped idolizing them and elect true, caring leaders.

  21. The article below ran in the June 5th Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette. Until I read Shelia’s post, I didn’t realize Mark Franke was simply regurgitating Project 2025.
    Counterurbanization, a term new to me, is the phenomenon of Americans increasingly moving from large cities to rural areas. This reverses a trend that began with the Industrial Revolution and continued until just recently.

    So, why the change? And, more important, what will its effect be 20 years down the road?

    The first answer is obvious: One need only peruse an internet news feed to see what is going on in our large cities. Unchecked crime, homelessness and the plight of urban schools all paint a rather apocalyptic picture of city life.

    And now we must indulge squatters, property thieves who for some unknown reason are protected by local laws over the property owners. I wouldn’t want to live there.

    But then I am a small-town boy at heart. I grew up around Waynedale, back then an independent town south of Fort Wayne. Eventually we were annexed by Fort Wayne, but the small-town environment survived — at least while I lived there.

    What brought my thinking back to my childhood was this topic at a monthly Socratic discussion group to which I belong: Do small towns matter?

    Of course they do, we quickly agreed. What’s not to like, especially compared to Chicago or Seattle? Our group has its own history with small towns in northeast Indiana, specifically Roanoke, Hoagland and my now dated memory of Waynedale.

    The DNA of a small town is quite different from that of a big city. Just stroll down Main Street — all small towns have a main street by whatever name — and it will be obvious.

    You will see a local bank, businesses such as a hardware store or funeral home that are still family owned and operated, and a lot of churches. And there will be a barbershop, with a barber who probably cut your father’s hair when Dad was a boy.

    Locals will be congregated at the coffee shop or just sitting on public benches, talking about the town’s current affairs or the good old days. The houses on the residential streets have front porches, always occupied on pleasant evenings. Neighbors matter.

    Disney used to make movies about towns and people like this.

    So why has this idyllic lifestyle become suddenly popular with urbanites? There are no night clubs, no ethnic restaurants, no all-night bars, no major entertainment venues, nothing that conventional wisdom instructs us urbanites must have to be content.

    Remember Richard Florida’s focus on attracting the “creative class”? His advice to cities, no doubt with cities like Fort Wayne in mind, was to change their cultural and economic environments such that they would be attractive to this young and with-it generation. How these changes would sit with the multigenerational residents of Middletown USA was not part of the social engineering calculus.

    So what do small towns offer ex-urbanites? Are they merely trying to escape unlivable living conditions or do they see something worth fleeing to?

    The answers to these questions are critical as they will inform what happens to these newly popular small towns.

    To ask the question another way: Are these relocators progressives who hope to transplant progressive ideology on conservative towns or are they attracted to a place that is a safe harbor from extreme progressivism and its culturally destructive effect?

    It will take years or decades to answer this question confidently. For now we have only anecdotal evidence, inconsistent as is all anecdotal evidence. One always has plenty of one-off examples to prove one’s point … as does one’s opposite in any debate.

    And since I have disparaged the value of anecdotes, I toss out one of my own.

    In the 2018 Senate race in Texas, new Texans voted for the Republican, Ted Cruz, at a significantly higher rate than native Texans. This is just one data point, but it tells us these California expatriates checked their progressive baggage at the state line.

    Many would intuit that counterurbanization represents a potential threat to small town America, but I don’t see it as an existential one.

    My sense, and it is only that in light of my anecdote mentioned above, is that people move to where they want to live. Something attracts them there, an environment that makes the cost of moving worthwhile, be it employment, housing, schools or overall lifestyle.

    If this migration is gradual, its effect will be insignificant for the foreseeable future. Perhaps all we will see is that the red on the political map will get redder and the blue bluer.

    Change happens; how we introduce it and control its effects is what matters. My faith is unabated in small towns like Roanoke and Hoagland and other Hoosier towns. They are beacons for those who want a simpler, saner and safer community of neighbors.

    Mark Franke is a retired associate vice chancellor at the former Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.

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