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Donald Trump Could Be a Total Chaos Bomb If He Wins 2024

Donald Trump
Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally to boost Ohio Republican candidates ahead of their May 3 primary election, at the county fairgrounds in Delaware, Ohio, U.S. April 23, 2022. REUTERS/Gaelen Morse/File Photo/File Photo

Uncertainty clouds projections of the 2024 presidential race.

Perhaps the most interesting potential scenario would be if Trump were to be elected to a second term.

Trump’s first term stemmed from modern political history’s greatest upset win – and resulted in the most “divided” America since the end of the Vietnam War – perhaps since the Civil War.

Donald Trump 2.0: What Does History Say? 

So, what would a second Trump term look like?

Presidential second terms have the capacity for awkwardness.

While second-term presidents are still technically the most powerful person on Earth, their power wanes as they approach the conclusion of their term, especially once a successor is elected; ineligible for reelection, with a successor in place, presidents lose their “teeth” – they become “lame ducks.”

Similarly, second terms have such a tendency – or perception – of being less successful than the first term that there’s even a superstitious legend: the second-term curse.

Legend holds that George Washington put a curse on Franklin D. Roosevelt when FDR ran for a third presidential term.

The curse, folksy as it is, results from the frequency with which second-term presidents are confronted with scandal, catastrophe, intern drama, political downturn, etc.

Second terms have been fraught with problems. Consider modern presidential history. Nixon dealt with Watergate and was forced to resign. Reagan had Iran-Contra. Clinton was impeached over the Lewinksy scandal.

George W. Bush had Hurricane Katrina and the financial meltdown. Barack Obama had the Snowden leaks. Although, the idea of a second-term curse isn’t quite scientific.

Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight doesn’t buy the second-term curse.

“My view, then, is that the idea of the second-term curse is sloppy as an analytical concept. There is certainly a historical tendency for presidents who earn a second term to become less popular — but some of this reflects reversion to the mean. And some recent presidents have overcome the supposed curse and actually become more popular on average during their second terms.”

Donald Back in the White House? 

Anyways, what would a Trump second term look like? Lame duck? Second-term curse?

By definition, a second term Trump would inevitably become a lame duck. However, Trump has demonstrated a unique ability to retain soft power.

The last time Trump was a lame duck, for example, he denied the legitimacy of the election results that rendered him a lame duck, hence bolstering himself, in the eyes of his supporters, as something more than a lame duck. And once Trump departed office, he remained the most powerful figure in the GOP – a phenomenon, a one-term president, ousted from office, yet still the party’s standard-bearer.

Typically, when a one-termer is out, his political career is over. Jimmy Carter was done; George H. W. Bush was done. 

Trump is not done.

Trump still operates as something of a kingmaker within the GOP, with congressional and gubernatorial candidates all coveting a Trump endorsement.

A Trump at the end of his second term should be slightly different, however. He would be ineligible for another run; he would be well into his 80s. Yet, Trump’s loyal base of ardent supporters, MAGA-nation, would undoubtedly still worship the guy.

A Curse? 

What about a second-term curse?

I’ll avoid pointed speculation about force majeure events. China is ascendent. Putin is adventurous.

The Fed, in their efforts to fight inflation, could unleash another recession. Global warming appears to be accelerating the rate of natural disaster occurrence. There’s plenty that could go wrong.

Speculation about potential controversies is easy – there’s plenty of ongoing controversies to fuel speculation. JustSecurity.org has a Trump litigation tracker; currently, the former president is involved in countless ongoing criminal or civil investigations/lawsuits. Trump is under fire for everything from incitement to fraud to tax evasion. Trump is perpetually embroiled in controversy, so simple math tells us a Trump second term would be embroiled in controversy, too. 

Granted, much of Trump’s legal controversy is the result of aggressive, wishful opposition – comparable to the Starr/Gingrich opposition that plagued Clinton’s tenure.

But unlike Clinton, or other second-term-curse-suffering presidents, Trump somehow seems to draw energy and power from controversy.

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Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. He lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken. Follow him on Twitter @harrison_kass.

Written By

Harrison Kass is a Senior Defense Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison has degrees from Lake Forest College, the University of Oregon School of Law, and New York University’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. He lives in Oregon and regularly listens to Dokken.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Walker

    December 30, 2022 at 10:02 pm

    Could be?

    Trump operates outside the realm of normal. Early in his tenure, he surrounded himself with people that would give him legitimacy, the men in the room. They blocked him at every turn and stopped a lot of the nonsense and still he managed to do crazy things. Later he found he could surround himself with absolute yes men. And from there is just got worse and worse.

    A second term, we should consider Trump to be even more Trump. He will be batshit crazy, out for revenge and no one to stop him.

    On the other hand, we should also expect that he will be unlikely to get many effective people to join him. A lot more batshit crazies supervising people who will likely stand up against them. So I guess we would see a crazy drama around government at all levels. But it would all look more like a car fight with lots of hissing and sounds like people dying but not a whole lot getting done.

  2. John Hudson

    December 30, 2022 at 11:49 pm

    Can we be sure that a second-term Trump with a Trump-owned Supreme Court would not succeed in removing the two-term limit, if not cancelling or indefinitely postponing the election?

  3. Leonardo Anon

    December 31, 2022 at 3:29 pm

    The total chaos bomb is already in the WH. Wake up freeloaders.

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