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Can You Trust What You Can't See?

know your facts Nov 29, 2023
fake dictionary page with definition of the word

It depends. Maybe on a personal level, but I'm not feeling very trusting of institutions. It seems more lies are being exposed every day. I saw an article about a week ago that didn’t seem to get much traction in the news, but it made me stop and think about what and who you can trust. While many of us agree that our government institutions are lacking, many of us have favorite institutions that we trust based on what we know about their public facing history of giving and support. And now because of dark money, we can’t trust that.

The Daily Beast reported last week that right-wing nonprofit American Compass, a partner in Project 2025, accidentally revealed donors that they intended to keep secret.

Project 2025

Let’s talk about what they’re supporting. Project 2025 is a 900+ page transition plan for a Republican president in 2025 organized by the right-wing Heritage Foundation, with an emphasis on the first 180 days in office. (The Heritage Foundation are the people who brought us the current Supreme Court, vetting the three nominees submitted by Trump.)

The goal of Project 2025 is to dismantle the federal government and remake it as ultra-conservative – fewer safety nets and services for the masses, but I’m sure plenty of grift for the in-crowd.

Plans include:

  • Reclassifying tens of thousands of federal workers to make them easier to fire. (They plan to “unapologetically” fire up to 50,000 federal workers.)
  • A total overhaul of the Department of Justice
  • Getting rid of the “woke” agenda in the Pentagon (ending diversity initiatives)
  • Ending the FBI’s efforts to combat misinformation
  • Reinstating service members who were dismissed because they refused the Covid19 vaccine

They have published their plans online and are recruiting thousands of “conservatives” to be ready to come to Washington, DC and get started undoing the government on day one after the inauguration.
The Washington Post has reported that Project 2025 is creating “specific plans for using the federal government to punish critics and opponents.” They reported that the group is “drafting plans to potentially invoke the Insurrection Act on his first day in office to allow him to deploy the military against civil demonstrations.”

Who’s Backing This Plan?

You would expect organizations like those listed as part of the board of advisors - like the Defense of Freedom Institute, Liberty University, and Turning Point USA – to fund Project 2025 and support each other. What I didn’t expect was for organizations who present as liberal supporters to fund organizations that are advising the Project 2025 team.

The Daily Beast obtained a copy of American Compass’ 2022 tax statement, which was marked “Not Open to Public Inspection” and “Do Not File,” indicating that it had been filed accidentally.
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Omidyar Network Foundation were among five organizations listed on the statement. According to the document, since 2020 the Omidyar Network has contributed a total of $400,000 to American Compass, with another $100,000 already pledged. The Omidyar Network publicly supports organizations that fight racism around the world.

The Hewlett Foundation has donated $1,486,000 in this same time period with another $475,000 pledged for January. It is a longtime supporter of NPR and what they have given to American Compass is more than what they gave NPR or Planned Parenthood Federation of America during this same time period. The Hewlett Foundation publicly supports women’s rights, education, environmental reform, and the arts around the world.

Action Now was also listed. The Daily Beast describes them as center-left. Ballotpedia describes Action Now as supporting various political causes, including changes to pension, criminal justice, and education policies; ranked-choice voting; and independent redistricting commissions. That’s not in alignment with secretly contributing $250,000 since 2020 to an organization actively involved in planning the destruction of the federal government.

These companies are publicly donating to liberal organizations and then giving even more to right-wing ultra-conservative organizations in secret. The Daily Beast offers more detail about American Compass, and I'm disappointed that this isn’t front page news. Plenty of organizations donate to "both sides," but I haven't heard of major organizations massively donating to one side secretly. If people are supporting organizations based on their public facing actions and those organizations are actively supporting opposing causes in secret, who can we trust?

I have been disillusioned with big money and focused on grassroots organizations, especially at the local level. I know we need people inside state and federal government to stand against the machinery that’s in place. But I also know where I can see the difference I make:

  • sharing what I know to the widest possible audience
  • teaching people how to be aware and take effective action where they take up space
  • demonstrating self-care – how to pause, but not stop, to sustain the work

Are you ready to make a difference right where you are? Are you ready to be one more David against these Goliaths? Add your energy to the change. Sign up for the free Everyday Activism Action Pack and get started a little at a time.

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