Observations of an expat: 2024

There are few certainties in American politics at the moment, but I think we can say (with fingers and toes crossed) that Donald Trump has lost the presidential election; Joe Biden will be inaugurated on 20 January 2021 and Trump will leave the White House (one way or another) on or about the same day.

But what will the obese, orange-faced narcissist with the bouffant hair style do once he has exited 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

Well, he will be 74 years old. He could simply retire to Mar-a-Lago and work on his golf handicap. He doesn’t have to worry about money. In addition to the billions of which he constantly boasts, Trump will receive an ex-president’s pension of $207,800; free healthcare; a staff and Secret Service protection.

That scenario, however, seems unlikely, Donald Trump is the ultimate illustration of power as an aphrodisiac. He thrives in the limelight and wilts in the shade. Donald Trump will want to continue as disrupter-in-chief outside elected office.

To do so, requires money.  This may attract him back to his property roots and a global real estate empire. It badly needs attention as most of his investments are in leisure and travel-related property which has been hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

But the problem with a return to real estate is that the Trump brand has been tarnished. While he was a rising star and then president everyone wanted to do business with him or his family. Doing business with a defeated and petulant president who is a right-wing ideologue would be too much of a political statement for most businessmen.

Another possibility is the media mogul route, either with his own television network, or, in tandem with an existing conservative platform. It he goes the latter route the most likely partner is the ultra-right wing One America News Network. Fox has been ruled out after they unceremoniously ditched him on election night.

Trump is a made for television personality. He is also a connoisseur of controversy. He would use a media platform to attack the Biden Administration with a barrage of conspiracy theories, lies and misinformation. And people will tune in to listen and buy the products he advertises. More than 71.5 million Americans voted to keep him in the White House.

The media platform seems the most likely scenario, especially as there have been reports that son-in-law Jared Kushner has been busy raising funds for just such a possibility. A television network—or even just a programme—could become a vehicle for a second run at the White House in 2024.

If Donald himself doesn’t make the attempt then he could support one of his family, all of whom he sees through the reflective lens of his own glory. Donald Jr has refused to deny that he may run for the presidency. It has also been suggested that Ivanka could be the first woman president and the less bombastic Jared Kushner is lurking quietly in the background.

There are, however, a few substantial legal hurdles which Trump will need to overcome out of office. While he was president, Trump, was immune from prosecution. But the legal vultures are already circling ready to swoop down one minute after 12 noon on 20 January 2021 (the time he officially ceases to be president). Chief vulture is New York District Attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., who has a long list of alleged crimes including state tax evasion, fraud and a variety of other financial irregularities. On top of that Trump’s niece Mary is planning to sue him for fraud and conspiracy; two women who claim Trump sexually assaulted them have outstanding defamation suits against him and two other women claim they were paid hush money by the Trump Organisation in violation of election law.

Trump has indicated that he will avoid prosecution by pardoning himself just before leaving office. Well, not only is this constitutionally suspect, but the presidential pardon only applies to federal crimes. A number of the charges relate to state crimes. Some legal experts believe that Trump could face his first indictment within three months of leaving office.

There is also the question of financial liquidity. The New York Times reported that the president will have  $300 million in loans fall due over the next few years. Failure to pay could lead to bankruptcy. But then the president is no stranger to that financial state.

* American expat journalist Tom Arms is a regular contributor and author of the forthcoming book “America: Made in Britain.”

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6 Comments

  • Paul Barker 13th Nov '20 - 5:52pm

    Whether Trump runs again or backs someone else The Republicans face a real & growing problem – Trumps base is an alliance of groups ( white men/ the very badly educated/religious conservatives) which are all in slow demographic decline. On the other hand if The Republicans try to dump Trump & move back to the Centre they risk alienating the Voters they have without gaining enough new ones; at the worst Trump could form a New Party & split the Right Vote – the American System has even less room for third Parties than ours.

  • Jane Ann Liston 13th Nov '20 - 9:17pm

    One thing which shocked me early on in the Trumpery reign was a case brought by one of the Trumpettes, was it Ivanka, because she didn’t think it fair that she was not allowed to profit by her position as the President’s daughter by marketing handbags and the like as such. Most First Ladies and the like use their position to help charities, but this one was apparently only interested how she could make money for herself out of it.

  • John Marriott 14th Nov '20 - 8:19am

    Many ‘experts’ have argued that, while its original exponent might quit the stage, ‘Trumpism’ has clearly not gone away. Look at the 70 million, who voted for him. These are the people, largely white and non college educated, who have seen their way of life largely sacrificed on the altar of global finance. The same could be said for many of those, who voted for Brexit over here. On both sides of the Atlantic, and anywhere else for that matter, where there’s a Stock Exchange, the select few are literally laughing all the way to the bank, while those, who gave them their support are no better off.

    This feeling of alienation may have picked the wrong person to lead it this time; but unless ‘big money’ and its tax havens and exploitation are contained, there could well be another ‘Trump’ with a more acceptable nuanced approach to politics, who might make the final heave. The departure of Cummings over here might be equated similarly to the departure (fingers crossed) of #45. However, there are quite a few more people, most of whom have no democratic accountability and who could have the same kind of influence over our politicians and behind it all are the wheelers and dealers of the global ‘elite’, who, like the bankers , who still emerged unscathed and unrepentant after the 2008 crisis.

    I like to end my morning ‘rants’ with reference to a popular song. Well, today is no exception. How about Roger Daltrey’s line; “Meeting the new boss, the same as the old boss” from the Who’s “Won’t get fooled again”? With Joe Biden I’m not so sure. With Johnson it’s different. ‘Britain Trump’ is still standing and, to quite a previous Tory leader, he might just be “turning up the volume”!

  • @ John and Paul. Both good comments. Thanks. I should have added that Trump could split the Republican Party if he decides to go it alone. This is a possibility if the Democrats win the run-off Senate elections in Georgia in January. If that happens the Republicans will go into re-invention mode with different wings flying off to the left and right. If the Republicans win, they will justifiably argue that the ultra-conservative policies are right, but the tweeting leader was wrong.

    John, your comment about 71.5 million who voted for Trump and those who voted for Brexit, is pretty spot-on. The problem is how to accommodate their views while not damaging economic growth and democratic institutions. I believe that some form of proportional representation would help. As we know, neither the US or UK have A PR system. It is no guarantee. Poland and Hungary have proportional representation and illiberal right-wing populist governments, but it would allow the representation of a wider range of views in parliament and thus make it less likely that voters would turn to demagogues to represent them.

  • I have been trying to understand why so many Americans are so angry and heartbroken because Trump lost, and why they are willing to believe unlikely conspiracy theories.

    Then I realised that it mirrored my rage when the UK voted for Brexit. I found it really difficult to accept then that so many people had believed the fiction being fed them by Farage and (as we later discovered) Cummings. I carried on campaigning to overturn the result because it really was based on lies.

    Trump supporters are in a similar place now. They really can’t come to terms with what happened. The difference this time is that Biden’s victory is genuine and not the result of lies and corruption. But a bit of empathy by the victors might help them all move towards healing.

  • Trump’s personality, bloviating and, ahem, erratic delivery make it easy to dismiss him. But he did win 70+ million votes and greatly increased the GOP share of Black and Hispanic votes (both male & female in each case). Only for white males did his vote share fall. As John Marriott says, that’s reminiscent of Brexit so he is a phenomenon we need to understand and not dismiss out of hand.

    Nor should we rush too soon to provide moral support to the Democrats who also have questions to answer.

    For one, is an elderly man showing signs of early dementia really the best they have or is this just a way to get the unelectable Kamala Harris into the presidency in, say, six months’ time? (If Biden doesn’t have dementia as many suspect, that would surely be easy to prove by putting him on prime time TV with a tough host.)

    Then there is the not-so-little matter of the conduct of the election.

    For me elections should be like Caesar’s wife – that is of conduct so good as to be clearly above suspicion. That’s obviously not been the case, so the US now has 70 million very angry people – a dangerous outcome.

    Amid the fog of war, it’s hard to know what to believe. Possibilities are that (a) everything was everywhere fine with a negligible error rate, and (b) America’s election infrastructure is as decrepit and badly maintained as the nation’s physical infrastructure so we are seeing way too many failures but they are essentially random, and (c) that there have been locally decisive interventions to change outcomes. This is going to court soon so we will find out which it is.

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