The grift behind Project 2025: Leader John McEntee made an app to hustle cash from lonely MAGA men

Donald Trump wants the press and the voters to look away from Project 2025. Instead, his defensiveness is causing journalists to report on the intricate web of connections between Trump and the far-right playbook for his desired second term. For instance, one of the many close Trump advisors who now works on Project 2025 is John McEntee, former Trump White House personnel director. McEntee has already confirmed that the plan is to “integrate” Project 2025 into the official Trump campaign.  

When McEntee isn’t scheming for ways to purge the federal government of reality-based bureaucrats and replace them with MAGA loyalists, he’s busy separating foolish MAGA men from their money with a dating app called “The Right Stuff.” The app, which was funded initially by far-right tech investor Peter Thiel, purports to connect Republican singles looking for love. In truth, it’s not clear what the app does, though many users express concerns about the data it may be collecting. One thing that seems unlikely is that it’s a sincere effort to get its Republican users to the wedding altar. 

Even if they achieve half of what they wish, the people behind Project 2025 will leave behind an American populace that is lonelier, more alienated, and angrier.

For one thing, while it’s exclusively for heterosexual people, the app seems to suffer a dearth of female users. “Two Republican staffers in Washington, D.C., said many young conservative women have ignored McEnany’s outreach and have instead jeeringly passed around screenshots of her messages to group chats,” Zachary Petrizzo of the Daily Beast reported in 2022. The problem doesn’t seem to have abated. As one college Republican recently complained to a right-wing student website, “Women on the app are eligible for a free premium subscription, which goes to show how few women sign up in the first place.” He complained it’s a “commercial failure,” even though conservative men, in his estimation, don’t do any better with the ladies on mainstream dating apps. Other users report being deluged with spam after signing up, especially from sex websites

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The strangest red flag may be in the primary way McEntee markets the website: with videos selling the fantasy of being a man on a date with a woman who cannot wait to hear your most despicable opinions. As Tim Miller of the Bulwark explained, “the conceit” of these videos, which are shared widely on Instagram and TikTok, is McEntee “is on a date” and the “POV is you and the camera are on a date” with him. So the audience takes the role of the rapt woman listening to McEntee’s conspiracy theories about “false flags.” 

Or you’re positioned as an adoring lady silently soaking in McEntee’s rant accusing drag queens of being pedophiles while he houses a hamburger. 

McEntee often makes these opinions as shocking as he can, so the videos get outraged reactions and press. In May, for example, he made a video claiming he gives homeless people fake money, so they’ll be arrested if they try to spend it. It’s unlikely to be true since the Secret Service tends to go after the person distributing counterfeit money, and not the victims who mistakenly take it. But it worked to get people talking about his feed, attracting more attention and perhaps more gullible men downloading the app. 

One thing this marketing campaign almost certainly is not about: attracting female users to The Right Stuff. Even for conservative women, it’s not exactly the dream date scenario to sit there in silence while some dude unloads his cruelest and dumbest ideas. No, this appears to be a fantasy for MAGA men. The dream is a woman who will do that for you. And if you can’t have that in reality, you can watch these videos and pretend to be the guy on a date, bleating nonsense while a woman listens. 

McEntee appears to be yet another one of the seemingly endless stream of masculinity “influencers” who have created a perfect grift cycle for themselves. First, identify alienated men and promise them a path out of loneliness and into the heterosexual relationship of their dreams. Second, encourage those men to adopt even more repugnant behaviors that make it even harder for them to attract women. Then, when those men become even more frustrated, push them further to the right, blaming all their problems on feminists, liberals and LGBTQ people. 

It’s a schtick we’ve seen from Jordan Peterson to Andrew Tate to the Proud Boys. I call it the male insecurity-to-fascism pipeline and, from a purely sociopathic viewpoint, it’s evil genius. Marketing toxic masculinity as self-help benefits both the authoritarian cause and the influencer pocketbooks. MAGA figureheads get to tear down liberal society and make money doing so. They simply don’t care that, in the process, they aren’t just hurting most Americans. They’re doing real damage to the men who follow them by encouraging them to adopt attitudes and behaviors that will make life harder in every arena, from work to romance. 

McEntee’s goals of running a dating app and gutting American democracy might seem, at first blush, to be disparate interests — but they’re tightly entwined. The policy agenda of Project 2025 couldn’t be better designed to tear further into the already fraying social fabric of America. So many of their goals — from gutting public education to decimating reproductive health care access — will put more stress on communities and families. If Trump wins, their platform will make it harder for people to maintain social relationships, much less create new ones. Try dating without birth control, for instance. Or having children without access to schools. Or having a safe community without environmental protections. Or having a decent job without labor protections. Even if they achieve half of what they wish, the people behind Project 2025 will leave behind an American populace that is lonelier, more alienated, and angrier. 

But hey, why should John McEntee care? A meaner and more isolated public just means more lonesome men to exploit with his shady dating app. 

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