Kevin Roberts, who heads the Heritage Foundation and is largely responsible for Project 2025, just implicitly threatened Americans that if we do not allow him and his hard-right movement to complete their transformation of America from a democratic republic into an authoritarian state, there will be blood in the streets.

“We’re in the process of taking this country back,” he told a TV audience, adding, “The reason that they are apoplectic right now, the reason that so many anchors on MSNBC, for example, are losing their minds daily is because our side is winning. And so I come full circle on this response and just want to encourage you with some substance that we are in the process of the second American Revolution, which will remain bloodless if the left allows it to be.”

He is not wrong. America has been changed as a result of a series of corrupt rulings by Republicans (exclusively; not one of these rulings has been joined by a Democratic appointee) which have changed America’s legal and political systems themselves.

As Roberts notes, this is really the largest issue we all face, and our mainstream media are totally failing to either recognize or clearly articulate how radically different our country is now, how far the Republicans on the Court have dragged us away from both our Founder’s vision and the norms and standards of a functioning, modern democratic republic.

In a series of decisions, the first written by that notorious corporatist Lewis Powell, Republicans on the Court have functionally legalized bribery of politicians and judges by both the morbidly rich and massive corporations.

This started with Powell’s 1978 Bellotti opinion, which opened the door to the idea that corporations are not only “persons” under the Constitution, but, more radically, are entitled to the human rights the Framers wrote into the Bill of Rights – the first ten amendments.

Using that rationale, Powell asserted that corporations, like rich people – from the Buckley decision that preceded Belotti by two years, are entitled to the First Amendment right of free speech. But he took it a radical step farther, ruling that because corporations do not have mouths they can use to speak with, their use of money to spend supporting politicians or carpet-bombing advertising for a candidate or issue is free speech that cannot be tightly regulated.

Citizens United, another all-Republican decision with Clarence Thomas the deciding vote – after taking millions in bribes, expanded that doctrine for both corporations and rich people, creating new “dark money” systems that wealthy donors and companies can use to hide their involvement in their efforts to get the political/legal/legislative outcomes they seek.

In July the Republicans on the Court took even that a huge step further, declaring that when companies or wealthy people give money to politicians in exchange for contracts, legislation, or other favors, as long as the cash is paid out after the deed is done it is not a bribe but a simple “gratuity.”

They have overthrown over 240 years of American law and legalized bribery. They also gutted the ability of federal regulatory agencies to protect average people, voters, employees, and even the environment from corporations that seek to exploit, pollute, or even engage in wage theft. This shifted power across the economic spectrum from a government elected by we the people to the CEOs and boards of directors of some of America’s most predatory and poisonous companies.

Finally, in the Trump immunity case, the Court ruled that presidents are immune from prosecution under criminal law, regardless of the crimes they commit, so long as they assert those crimes are done as part of their “official” responsibilities. And who decides what is “official”? The six Republicans on the Supreme Court.

These actions — corporate personhood, money as speech, ending the Chevron deference to regulatory agencies, and giving the president life-and-death powers that historically have only been held by kings, shahs, mullahs, dictators, and popes — have fundamentally altered the nature of our nation.

It is almost impossible to overstate the significance of this, or its consequences. We no longer live in America 1.0; this is a new America, one more closely resembling the old Confederacy, where wealthy families and giant companies make the rules, enforce the rules, and punish those who irritate or try to obstruct them.

In America 2.0, there is no right to vote; governors and secretaries of state can take away your vote without even telling you – although they still must go to court to take away your gun.

They can destroy any politician they choose by simply pouring enough cash into the campaign system – including dark, untraceable cash.

The president can now go much farther than Bush’s torturing and imprisoning innocent people in Gitmo without legal process: he can now shoot a person on Fifth Avenue in plain sight of the world and simply call it a necessary part of his job. Or impoverish or imprison you or me with the thinnest of legal “official” rationales.

America 2.0 is not a democracy; it is an oligarchy, as I wrote about in The Hidden History of American Oligarchy. The South has finally — nearly — won the Civil War.

While it will be months or more likely years before all of these new powers the Republicans on the Court have given the president, rich people, and corporations begin to dawn on most Americans, they will, step-by-step transform this country into something more closely resembling Hungary or Russia than the democracies of Europe and Southeast Asia.

The only remedy at this late stage in this 50+ yearlong campaign to remake America is a massive revolt this fall at the ballot box, turning Congress — by huge majorities — over to Democrats while holding the White House.

If we fail at this, while there will be scattered pockets of resistance for years, it will be nearly impossible to reverse the course that America’s right-wing billionaires have set us on.

There has never been a more critical time in the history of our nation outside of the last time rich oligarchs tried to overthrow our democracy, the Civil War. Like then, the stakes are nothing less than the survival of a nation of, by, and for, we the people.

Jose Luis Magana (AP) and Mykal McEldowney (AP)

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