Trump, once out of power, will be a long-term problem for Republicans

Photo by roya ann miller on Unsplash

Fast forward to 2025. My guess is that Trump will have lost the 2020 election and Democrats will have at least held onto the House, if not also won the Senate. Obviously, change will be afoot.

You can imagine how Trump will behave. Just as he wielded his Twitter account like a weapon during the Obama Presidency, he will continue to do so once he is out of office. He will revel in positioning himself as the government in absentia, offering on-going critiques of the Democrats’ actions.

In some ways, this role will suit Trump better than his current one. He loves to be bombastic, making statements without regard for their impact on others. As President, such behavior has consequences. As a private citizen, it makes for good copy.

He will still enjoy many of the trappings of the respect we award former Presidents. He will get Secret Service protection and will enjoy the adoration of his hard-core fans. After all, even Sarah Palin still has hard-core supporters. But her 1.5 million Twitter followers is dwarfed by Trump’s 61.3 million.

As the 2026 election approaches, you can imagine the various Republican candidates seeking to unseat the Democrats making a pilgrimage to Trump Tower, kissing the ring in an effort to gain his imprimatur. But Trump, as he has in the past, will play it coy.

At some point, a Republican candidate will start to get traction and excitement will start to rise among the party faithful for this hopeful. Will Trump, with his massive ego, really be able to just sit back and support the party?

Certainly, both Trump’s personal unpopularity along with the unpopularity of his policies will be a weight holding back the candidacy of any future Republican. As a result, Republicans will inevitably need to create some distance between themselves and Donald Trump.

Imagine Trump’s response. He will view the slightest deviation from his orthodoxy as a betrayal and will communicate his displeasure to his die-hard supporters. Those supporters will still make up a significant part of the Republican grassroots, thus creating a political problem for any Republican candidate.

This will become a double-edged sword to Republicans in the future. On the one hand, the U.S. population is getting more and more liberal, both due to demographics and as a reaction to Trump. This will only push the Trump supporters further to the right, and they continue to make up a majority of Republicans. As a result, his political legacy will be a burden to future Republican candidates.

On the other hand, he will not be a good party soldier, cheerleading from the sidelines much as Barack Obama and even Hillary Clinton have been. He will want the party to be all about him at a time when it needs to focus on its next candidate.

For Democrats, then, in the long term, Trump will be a gift that just keeps on giving.

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Mike is an Assistant Professor of Management for Legal and Ethical Studies at Oakland U. Mike combines his scholarship with practical experience in politics.

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