If there can be humor in the destructive politics of today, it must surely be in the way in which several Republican presidential candidates are tripping over themselves trying to avoid criticizing Donald J. Trump Jr., the frontrunner A couple of them have indeed flatly rejected Trump’s suitability for being a candidate, much less president again, but others are urging Americans to forget the past and move on.

Trump himself has no intention to move on, brushing aside accusations of malignant narcissism, abusive misogyny, blatant lying and what should be a legal nightmare that includes criminal indictments totaling 91 counts, including instigating an insurrection. He tells his tens of millions of supporters, “They’re not coming after me. They’re coming after you. And if we don’t stop them, you will no longer have a country.” Still claiming the 2020 election was stolen from him -and them — he promises, “I am your revenge.”

Such rhetoric sustains the former president’s campaign which, unlike what happened in the 2016 election, he does not need foreign interference to succeed, such as what Russia and Israel provided, as James Bamford details in his new book “Spyfail.” Now, Trump’s popularity among Republican voters, according to the polls, is such that he does not even bother to attend candidate debates or produce a coherent agenda. He is obviously convinced that the ethnic grievance which he has marshaled in his followers and his first-term record term are a winning combination.

So, while others want to let bygones be bygones, Trump leaves little doubt that, for him, as it was for Antonio in William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” the reality is “what’s past is prologue.” And he makes clear what he expects to come next.

In a campaign website video which journalist Spencer Ackerman cited in The Nation, Trump declared, “The State Department, the defense bureaucracy, the intelligence services and all the rest need to be completely overhauled and reconstituted to fire the Deep Staters and put America First.”

He intends “to consolidate dictatorial power within the White House. Through dubious assertions of presidential authority and the removal of civil service protections, Trump intends to ‘identify the pockets of independence’ within the executive branch ‘and seize them,’” Ackerman said, citing a mid-July New York Times interview with Trump’s former budget director Russell T. Vought.

“But Trump’s rhetoric is not just the revenge fantasy of someone under multiple indictments nor is it merely a cynical harnessing of right-wing bloodthirst,” Ackerman argues. “As president, Trump didn’t have a problem with the existence of a so-called deep state; his problem was a deep state he didn’t control.”

The path to such control has already been paved for a second Trump presidency, as detailed in a 1,000-page handbook that his allies have compiled. It is called Project 2025, which is headed, of course, by the conservative Heritage Foundation, with input from former Trump administration officials, according to Associated Press reporter Lisa Mascaro. The objective “is to have the civic infrastructure in place on Day One to commandeer, reshape and do away with what Republicans deride as the ‘deep state’ bureaucracy, in part by firing as many as 50,000 federal workers,” Mascaro reported.

Such action will “avoid the pitfalls of Trump’s first years in office, when the Republican president’s team was ill-prepared, his Cabinet nominees had trouble winning Senate confirmation and policies were met with resistance — by law-premacy suppress or attempt to erase our history. Wenner not only bulldozed over the “true” masters of rock and roll, but also curbed white women. Stevie Nicks is not intelligent enough to articulate the embodiment of rock and roll culture for Wenner? Carole King and Joni Mitchell cannot have an ‘intellectual’ conversation about their successful songwriting careers and how it shaped the culture of rock and roll? No Carly Simon? Carly Simon is the daughter of the publishing magnet that co-founded Simon and Schuster? Carly Simon is not intellectual enough to articulate the breadth of rock and roll? What were the two requirements to be included in Jann Wenner’s book again? Oh. white and male. In Wenner’s mind, only White men are articulate and intellectual.

Rolling Stone magazine and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame moved quickly to distance themselves from their co-founder’s absurd statements. Monday the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame moved to dismiss Wenner from its board of directors by simply stating in a press release “Jann Wenner has been removed from the Board of Directors of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation.” No other comment was offered. Rolling Stone magazine said in a statement the same day that the views of Wenner “do not represent the values and practices of today’s Rolling Stone.” Note “today’s Rolling Stone” because that part of the statement is a key one. Yes. Rolling Stone magazine became the centralized element in rock and roll that helped to overlook and /or exclude the contributions of Black artists and women from the genre. Rolling Stone was not unlike other magazines of the time that did not feature Black American musical artists or Black artists of the Diaspora, or even Black / African / Caribbean adjacent genres. That is makers, government workers and even Trump’s own appointees who refused to bend or break protocol or, in some cases, violate laws, to achieve his goals,” Mascaro said.

“We need to flood the zone with conservatives. This is a clarion call to come to Washington. People need to lay down their tools and step aside from their professional life and say, ‘This is my lifetime moment to serve’,” Paul Dans, director of the ambitiously named 2025 Presidential Transition Project and a former Trump administration official, told Mascaro. To that end, Project 2025 operatives have already launched a drive to recruit candidates for the expected federal job openings, Mascaro reported.

The plan hinges on reactivation of a Trump-era executive order “to reclassify tens of thousands of the two million federal employees as essentially at-will workers who could more easily be fired.” President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. rescinded that order when he took office in 2021, Mascaro noted. Biden officials expect he will move to block Project 2025 but, of course, that will not prevent Trump from overturning that decision.

To overcome possible Senate opposition to partisan appointees, they will be given acting positions “as was done during the [first] Trump administration to bypass the Senate confirmation process.” That will mean having to “play hardball a little more than we did with Congress,” said John McEntee, a former Trump aide and a Project 2025 team member.

“The ideas contained in Heritage’s coffee table-ready book are both ambitious and parochial,” Mascaro wrote about Project 25. They comprise “a mix of longstanding conservative policies and stark, head-turning proposals that gained prominence in the Trump era. … Chapter by chapter, the pages offer a how-to manual for the next president, similar to one Heritage produced 50 years ago ahead of the Ronald Reagan administration,” Mascaro reported.

According to the Project 2025 website, “It is not enough for conservatives to win elections. If we are going to rescue the country from the grip of the radical Left, we need both a governing agenda and the right people in place, ready to carry this agenda out on Day One of the next conservative Administration.”

The former president and his allies are, therefore, obviously unconcerned at possible criticism over creating a wholly partisan new “deep state.” They are very public about how they will go about undermining the checks and balances of American democracy. Such is their level of confidence that voters will not stop them.

After all, they are aware that this is probably the last opportunity they will have to further consolidate power, which has been in the hands of European Americans since the founding of the republic and which changing demographics and continuing waves of refugees are now threatening. It cannot be emphasized too much that, under all the politicking, the intention is to finally election-proof their hold on the country for the foreseeable future.

They are busily engaged in political chicanery to make it difficult to vote and confront their manipulation of the undemocratic Electoral College that helps a small minority of the country dominate the vast majority. And they have stacked the U.S. Supreme Court with an unstoppable conservative majority willing to do their bidding.

When Trump tells his supporters that, if they do not vote for him, they will “no longer have a country,” he knows exactly what he is saying. So do they also, especially the “Confederate wing” of the Republican Party, as activist Paul Rieckhoff recently described them on MSNBC’s “Reid Out” show hosted by Joy Reid. They cling to the supposed existential threat of the “Great Replacement” to the exclusion of anything else, especially in the South, regardless of that region’s appalling record on poverty and other quality-of-life issues, including literacy.

So, once again, it comes down to deciding whether the United States is a European American or a multiracial country, monoethnic or polyethnic. It is an easy decision. The country was never monoethnic, not with the presence of Indigenous peoples and enslaved Africans, and a dwindling European American population now totals 58.9 percent of the nation, the Census reported. That will decline to 47.9 percent, a minority, by 2050 – in less than 30 years — the Pew Research Center predicts. That is exactly why electing Trump and implementing Project 2025 matters so much to those who are behind it and why opponents can be expected to do their best to ensure there is no second presidential term for him.