“Conservatives have to lead the way in restoring sex to its true purpose, & for…ending recreational sex & senseless use of birth control pills.” That is a direct quote from the Heritage Foundation’s X account on May 27, 2023. Personally, I would not want these people anywhere near government. As it happens, I like recreational sex. If you don’t, that’s just fine; don’t have any.

Heritage is the top conservative think tank in Washington, D.C., founded in 1973 during the Nixon administration to serve as a counterweight to the liberal-leaning Brookings Institution. Its 1981 report, “Mandate for Leadership,” contained 2,000 policy recommendations for the incoming Reagan administration; Heritage brags that 60 percent of these were eventually adopted. 

Today, it is all but the official Republican Party think tank. The analogous institution on the Democratic side of the aisle is the Center for American Progress; Neera Tanden, its founder and longtime president and CEO, currently serves as a senior advisor to President Biden. 

Ahead of the election, Heritage has been quietly working on “Project 2025”: a $22 million effort at drawing up a blueprint for a second Trump term. The proposals being put forward are extreme and out of touch with American values. But we need to take them both seriously and literally. 

Heritage has feted allies of Viktor Orban, the right-wing authoritarian prime minister of Hungary, in Washington. Its head, Kevin D. Roberts, describes Orban as “a very impressive leader”; calls the European Union’s assessment of democratic backsliding in Hungary under his tenure “incorrect”; and says that “there are lessons from a lot of countries, including Hungary” for American conservatives. When asked whether Biden won the 2020 election, Roberts says “no” — there were “a lot of unknowns about two counties in Arizona, multiple counties in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin” — and points to an internal “election-fraud database at Heritage that shows a lot of instances of fraud.”

Project 2025 has released a white paper analyzing the ways a Republican president could use executive orders to restrict abortion rights under the Comstock Act, a largely unenforced law passed in 1873 — before women had the right to vote — that bans sending birth control and abortion medication via the postal service. Jonathan F. Mitchell, the lawyer who drafted Texas’ near-total abortion ban, told the New York Times, “We don’t need a federal ban when we have Comstock on the books.” Make no mistake: Republican think-tankers want to bring religion into government and into your bedroom. 

Russell Vought, Trump’s top budget official and a close confidant widely speculated to be Trump’s future chief of staff, is advising Project 2025 as well as running his own think tank, The Center for Renewing America. The CRA, too, has a list of priorities for a Trump presidency. One of those items is “Christian nationalism”; another is invoking the Insurrection Act to suppress protests. The CRA’s document calls for revoking FDA approval of “chemical abortion drugs” such as mifepristone — a medication used in almost half of abortions — and defunding Planned Parenthood. Vought has written on X, formerly known as Twitter, that he is “proud to work with” William Wolfe, a former Trump administration official, “on scoping out a sound Christian Nationalism,” while Wolfe deleted his own posts calling for ending sex education in schools, surrogacy and no-fault divorce nationwide. 

Donald Trump has studiously avoided taking a public stance on major abortion-related policy disputes, including the Comstock Act, abortion pills and what sorts of judges he might appoint. Sure, he’ll brag on Fox News that he is “proud” to “get Roe v. Wade terminated.” And he’ll gesture supporting a 15-week national ban. But he mostly doesn’t want to talk about these issues in the general election because he probably knows that his party’s position is out of touch with the American people and fundamental American values — separation of church and state, freedom of speech and women’s right to control their own bodies. 

If Trump is reelected, he will be appointing judges and regulators who will make decisions on abortion policy. The most recent Republican Party platform says the 14th Amendment applies to unborn children and supports a constitutional amendment defining life as beginning at conception. Project 2025 includes a “presidential personnel database” of potential candidates for Trump administration jobs. To get their names into the database, candidates must agree with statements such as “Life has a right to legal protection from conception to natural death.” I wonder how regulators drawn from that shortlist will rule on abortion-related matters. 

If you think that abortion and recreational sex are wrong — God bless, you’re entitled to your views. But don’t try and force them on the rest of us.  

MILAN SINGH is a sophomore in Pierson College. His column, “All politics is national,” runs fortnightly. Contact him at milan.singh@yale.edu.

Milan Singh is a sophomore in Pierson College. His column, "All politics is national," runs fortnightly.