With or without Biden, this election's stakes couldn't be higher

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The multitalented Taraji P. Henson has always been impressive on many levels. And even more so now, for reminding us what really matters at this crucial point in the presidential race. 

It is this: No matter what you thought of the first Biden-Trump debate, one thing hasn’t changed, and that is the stakes in this election. 

Henson was talking directly to ticked-off, disenchanted, post-debate voters when she paused in the middle of hosting the BET awards on July 1 with a straight-to-camera message: Don’t stay home this fall; vote, because the stakes are so high.  

Vote, because Project 2025, the scary far-right blueprint for a second Trump administration, “is not a game.” 

Her warning effectively went viral, as people bombarded Google with searches for “Project 2025.”  

An avalanche of news reports about Project 2025 followed — and I know some of them were directly attributable to Henson. And it’s about time because the Heritage Foundation’s dystopian vision for a future America has been online, hiding in plain sight for months. 

It’s also a welcome counterpoint to post-debate media coverage that’s focused relentlessly on President Biden’s health while paying far less attention to Donald Trump’s lies, insults and incoherence.  

“Black jobs,” anyone? 

Trump’s latest absurd statement is that he knows “nothing about Project 2025,”  and has “no idea who is behind it.” That doesn’t pass the laugh test, because so many people who were either in his last administration or expected to be in a second one had a hand in writing it.    

Not only that, but the Heritage Foundation also happens to be a sponsor of next week’s Republican National Convention, where Trump will accept the party’s nomination.  

And as Henson so cogently put it, Heritage’s 920-page blueprint is not a game. 

I’ve written before about how chilling Project 2025 is. It’s sprawling and monstrous and would give Trump carte blanche to persecute a huge and growing enemies list. 

It’s a scheme to put virtually unlimited power in the hands of an authoritarian president, with mass firings of civil servants and the elimination of an independent Justice Department. It would cement in place a far-right, Christian nationalist, “biblical” worldview as the foundation for law and policy.  

The stakes for everyday Americans and our democracy are endless: reproductive freedom, religious freedom, freedom of speech, the environment, racial equity, health care, Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, education and the courts.  

The courts deserve special focus because we’ve just seen what a Supreme Court stacked with Trump justices can do. On the last day of its term, the court handed down a ruling giving ex-presidents like Trump unprecedented legal immunity for things they do in office.  

It’s exactly what Trump needed to avoid the risk of being tried in federal court for election subversion, before the next election. 

And it comes on top of Supreme Court rulings that have already upended our society by eviscerating longstanding precedents on abortion, affirmative action and the ability of federal agencies to protect health, safety and rights. 

It’s fair to say that who gets to nominate the next Supreme Court justices, as well as other federal judges, is one of the highest stakes in the presidential election this year. We can’t risk giving Trump that power again. 

I believe it’s important to have the conversation about what the Biden campaign should do next. That’s a sign of a healthy democracy and a healthy political party. Unlike a cult in which everyone marches in lockstep, healthy organizations have open debate and reach consensus.      

But the bottom line is this: In the end, there will be two major presidential-vice presidential tickets to choose from in November. And the stakes remain clear while the differences in vision could not be starker. 

Do you want a democracy that creates more opportunity for all, or do you want a greedy, authoritarian theocracy focused on dangerous grievances?

No contest.      

Svante Myrick is president of People for the American Way.

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