Here’s Why Trump Shouldn’t Be President Again:
Okay, former President Donald Trump is looking for clout in his own mysterious ways again. Whether you heard about this or not, he once again made the headlines by telling Fox News host Sean Hannity that if he gets reelected, he will only be a dictator on “day one” to get back at his political enemies.
There have also been plenty of reports on his plans to stack the executive branch in his favor by appointing all kinds of loyalists and expanding his power to do whatever he wants with federal government workers.
As Trump has always deployed this specific kind of language, and often his main goals implied generating tons of media attention rather than outlining serious policy objectives, there are still many other reasons to worry about his plans regarding the future assertion of presidential power.
All these things might as well happen during a second Trump term, and for now, we still have the power to change this. There are many reasons to believe that a second time would be very different. As in, way worse. So yes, many people out there (and in here, for that matter) feel that Trump would be even more unbound. But why?
Lame duck freedom
Just like many other second-term presidents, Trump would definitely feel less constrained by having to worry about reelection. The whole point of being a lame duck is that there’s less pressure to avoid actions that could potentially undercut the possibility of winning the support of future voters.
As far as history goes, some presidents tried to use this freedom to advance all sorts of controversial initiatives that would be in the best interest of the nation and the world. For instance, back in 1987, President Ronald Reagan signed a major arms agreement with the Soviet Union, known as the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
However, presidents also used the lame duck period in extremely dangerous ways, abandoning the guardrails on deploying power. This would definitely be the case with Trump, who seems to have retribution rather than something efficient and positive in mind.
He has already survived impeachment twice.
Trump is also in the unique position of having survived not one, but two impeachments while in office. As it turns out, the big, scary mechanism that Congress has to prevent a president from abusing his power is none of Trump’s concern, and it never was.
He has seen how partisanship is quite enough to insulate himself from the option of being removed by the Senate. Trump also had a taste of how he could capitalize on being impeached by stating to supporters that partisan opponents were out to get him and that he was mainly a victim of the establishment.
Because of that, as former Republican Rep. Liz Cheney reminds us in her latest book, Republicans saved him long before and would definitely do it again, and that’s why the impeachment power of the legislative branch wouldn’t represent something to be scared of.
He would have outflanked the law.
If he was in office, that would automatically mean that Trump also survived, politically, the legal process again. Whether or not he’s convicted in any of the four ongoing cases against him, it’s still yet to be determined. He denies any wrongdoing.
But if he were to be in office in 2025, it would mean that the legal process didn’t have the capacity to change voting behavior. In fact, it could mean exactly the opposite: that it made him stronger.
Whereas President Richard Nixon really needed the help of President Gerald Ford to pardon him, Trump would have way more confidence that he wouldn’t need to worry about that sort of protection.
His stranglehold on Republican loyalty
Besides the endless discussion about some Republicans who decided they didn’t like Trump anymore, most members of the GOP have stayed “by his side.”. Republicans on Capitol Hill have also remained relatively steady in their support of the former president, with the occasional slippage here and there.
Those who are not standing with him, like Cheney, have found themselves on the outside or out of a job. In the electorate, the polls keep showing that regardless of what happens, he’s still far and above the most popular figure in the party. Trump knows this already and will automatically assume that if he gets in trouble, the party will instantly back him.
His cabinet would be filled with yes-persons.
During his first term, Trump brought in figures from not only the world of Washington but also the military to serve in his cabinet. Of course, figures like Secretary of Defense James Mattis and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus at least exposed him to other voices who knew his ideas were going too far. Mattis was there from 2017 to 2019, when Trump refused to listen to his warnings about removing troops from Syria.
By 2020, Mattis was calling Trump a genuine threat to the Constitution. Priebus, a former member of Congress and the head of the RNC (Republican National Committee) served as chief of staff for the first six months of Trump’s term, until he was thrown out.
A second term would likely be very different. As McKay Coppins wrote in The Atlantic, all indications are that this time around he would only staff his White Houe with the true loyalist. Figures like Stephen Miller and Richard Grenell, former close aides in the first Trump administration, would push him toward even further extremes.
Now Trump has experience. As chaotic as the first term might have been, he would now have a much better sense of where it is possible to run roughshod over conventions and processes. He also tested the waters, and he will have an easier time knowing what to expect when jumping back in.
Indeed, we’ve even noticed his approach to the 2024 primaries. He adopted a much more deliberate approach in thinking about how to set up conditions so as to subvert his challengers. As with any second-term president, he will be smarter at using levers of power, legitimate or not, to pursue his goals and solidify his strength.
The real threat of vengeance
Maybe the biggest factor of all is that Trump is out to get his revenge. He’s very angry at the opposition he constantly has to face and all the prosecutions that have been conducted under the Justice Department.
Trump, who has always been a person who sought to oust those who wished him harm or even disagreed with him, will be able to do so using the long arms of the government. Those who don’t think that this is even a serious threat should remember our long history of presidents, from Woodrow Wilson during WWI all the way to Richard Nixon, who had no issue using the government to intimidate, crackdown, and imprison their opponents.
When Trump says certain things like “We will root out the communists, Marxists, and fascists, but also the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country, lie and steal, and cheat on elections,” you should know that it’s not a drill. I don’t think it gets any more serious than this. If you want to remember his first mandate, we recommend you listen to Fire and Fury, by Michael Wolff.
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