He offered a completely new – and rather dynamite – definition of how to be President of the United States. Now that he will likely have to leave the White House, how will the Trump “character” continue to exist? Hypotheses.
“Donald Trump will never really go away […]. It will not disappear on November 4, nor January 20 [date de l’investiture du nouveau président], neither at his death, nor even in 100 years. He will perhaps be what future generations will know best of our time. “
This is what Thomas Wright, director of the Center on the United States at the Brookings Institution, wrote ahead of the election. And he added in The Atlantic Donald Trump would not be remembered for what he did, “but because the fate of a mad king is some kind of immortal tale.” The phenomenon is rare, and therefore captivating ”.
And so will soon open a whole new chapter in the not quite ordinary life of Donald Trump: he will become a former president (unless there is some twist). But forget everything you know about post-presidencies: it will be like the last four years, says historian Mark Updegrove. Because the “character” Donald Trump will survive beyond the electoral process.
“Donald Trump will be as abnormal in this role as he has been for four years”, warns the author of Second Acts : Presidential Lives and Legacies After the White House, and long-time director of the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library. “He overturned all democratic standards in this country – we saw him again this week. It will also undoubtedly overturn all the standards that former presidents adhere to. “
The fate of a mad king is a kind of immortal tale. The phenomenon is rare, and therefore captivating.
In the first place, he says: the “very conscious efforts made by every former president to ensure that the dignity and integrity of the office are not tainted” by their post-White House activities. Considering Donald Trump’s conception of this function since 2017, it is safe to believe that these notions will be tested, said Mr. Updegrove politely.
“If Donald Trump has confirmed to us only one thing in which he is constant, it is the fact that he constantly defies standards,” observes Vincent Boucher, researcher at the Observatory on the United States of the Raoul-Dandurand Chair. This is true as a businessman, and it has been true as the President of the United States. So of course he will question the customs and standards of a former president. “
Let’s see what that might entail. Mark Updegrove first points out that Donald Trump will step down after more than 69.5 million Americans have just voted for him: this is the second highest total in history (behind Joe Biden, of course). Which means: immense influence.
He could thus “want to continue to appear to act like a president of the United States, thinks Vincent Boucher. Especially if Joe Biden’s victory is very slim. It would be tempting for him to say: “I think this election was rigged, I was robbed of the presidency”. He is already doing it, but could continue, and stay in Washington in his hotel not far from the White House, organize political forces… ”
A phantom president, in short. Vincent Boucher evokes a “kind of rebellious White House, which would obviously have no formal power, but which would have a very great power of disruption. Donald Trump has shown that he is an excellent disruptor of the course of things. I see him keep using Twitter like he does [c’est-à-dire : tout le temps, et souvent en majuscules], hold rallies to create political instability ”.
And this, to feed a scenario that many are considering: a candidacy of Donald Trump for the presidential election of 2024 – he would then be 78 years old, a year older than Joe Biden this year… “Let’s not forget that he is still the leader clear of his political movement, notes Vincent Boucher. If he decides to comment on all aspects of politics for four years, he could very well aspire to be a candidate in the next election. “
Occupy the media
Mark Updegrove sees the same purpose – a new candidacy – but at the end of a post-presidential journey which would involve the establishment of a sort of conservative media empire “which would allow him to relay his platform, his issues – and above all to promote yourself, especially for 2024 ”.
Because here it is: Donald Trump is first of all at the service of Donald Trump, remind the two experts. “In the past, we have seen several former presidents use their influence, their image to support causes through foundations”, recalls Vincent Boucher, referring in particular to the cases of Jimmy Carter (Nobel Peace Prize in 2002) and Bill Clinton. “But it is obvious that the cause that will be carried by Donald Trump and his relatives will be the cause of the Trump organization… which is of course for profit. “
The businessman will not lack challenges: American media have reported that by 2024 he will have to renew some $ 900 million in loans which are due and which support a significant part of the empire. Trump.
Donald Trump’s fortune is not exactly known – except that it is less than what he claims. On the other hand, there is no doubt in the eyes of Mark Updegrove that he will know how to get rich handsomely by doing what Barack Obama, George W. Bush or Bill Clinton are doing or have done.
On the one hand: public speaking tours – it is said that Obama gets up to $ 400,000 per speech or question-and-answer session like the one he held at the Bell Center. On the other: a book of memories. “There will be huge interest in this,” Mr. Updegrove thinks.
An amusement park ?
For having directed the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, Mark Updegrove will obviously be interested in the one that Donald Trump will erect… or not. Because he has no doubts, again here, that Trump will do things his way – outside the system and for his own benefit.
He recalls that in the United States, these libraries – which are in fact museums, some with a particular vocation (the one that will honor Barack Obama will have a forum that will serve to bring out “the next generation of leaders”) – are generally erected thanks to donors and then administered by a government office.
A model followed by all… but not suitable for Donald Trump, says Mr. Updegrove. For the future ex-president, he imagines instead a museum whose strings he would control and which would serve mainly to tell his vision of history istoire in his own way.
Vincent Boucher agrees. “Since presidential libraries are usually a bit like presidents, I have no trouble imagining some kind of Trumpist park,” he says. No matter the form, it will be something that will mainly be used to raise money and get your message across. “
But hey: there won’t be a presidential library for a long time. And by then, there are still two and a half months in the presidency of Donald Trump, “an interlude during which he can make important decisions and continue to leave his mark on national and international politics”, notes Mr. Boucher.
After? Nobody knows. But between Twitter and tens of millions of people who support it, “we can expect absolutely everything” from Donald Trump, summarizes Mark Updegrove.
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