Today, President Trump’s term ended. He boarded Air Force One for the trip to his home on the island of Palm Beach. During his farewell speech to supporters at Joint Base Andrews, the former president revisited his accomplishments in office and predicted the economy will surge if taxes and regulations are not reimposed. He wished the incoming Biden administration good luck. But Trump also hinted that he may remain in politics saying, “We will be back in some form.”
This desire to remain in politics or in a position to shape political events may have also been signaled by rescinding a pledge his aides and staff had taken to not engage in lobbying activities for five years after leaving the administration. If Trump means to have a voice in politics that would include former staffers and officials being able to register and lobby members of Congress and the government.
This leaves open for speculation what Trump might do now. Here are some of his options.
He may decide to focus on restoring the Trump Organization. Contrary to claims that President Trump’s businesses made millions or billions during his tenure in the Oval Office, Bloomberg, USAToday, Business Insider, and other news outlets all report that he suffered many millions in losses while president. The Washington Post reported that the Trump Organization has shuttered 17 properties and laid off at least 1,500 workers around the world. The value of the company, which is privately held, may have fallen as much as 37 percent by estimates gauged against the stock price decline of similar companies that are publicly traded.
Trump may decide to just retire and play golf. The last four years of being battered from all sides must have taken a toll on him and his family. He does have a 14-year-old son and wife who might want to make up for the family time lost due to the demands of the presidential office.
After leaving office, presidents and top officials are often invited to give speeches and make paid appearances at a variety of events. In this way, the Obamas, Clinton, and even the Bidens were successful. This could also be an option for Trump.
Furthermore, after being suspended and banned from Twitter and other social media platforms, Trump made statements that suggested he might begin his own social media platform. “I long predicted this would happen,” Trump said in a Tweet the official White House account. “We have been negotiating with various other sites, and will have a big announcement soon, while we also look at the possibilities of building out our own platform in the near future. We will not be SILENCED!”
This is something to be taken very seriously by his opponents. Over 74 million people voted for Trump in the last election; his Twitter account was followed by 82 million. This means that nearly a fifth of Twitter’s 350 million users followed Trump. The former president has the financial means and connections to fund one or several new social media platforms that could mirror the functions of FaceBook, Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, and Instagram. Building his own platform would allow Trump to bypass any potential moderation, censorship or suspension. And a multi-platform Trump Social Media company would have a huge initial following which could drain its market rivals.
Finally, President Trump did not invent the movement that propelled him to the White House, so much as he captured and captivated it. It existed well before he came on the scene and will not simply go away because he has left office. Trump was not so much a Republican or Conservative as he was a populist whose agenda was not a platform of Conservative ideals drawn from John Lock or James Madison.
What he offered to his supporters was really quite simple: more jobs, less taxation and government regulation, a strong defense, and an America-centric focus on trade and foreign policy. None of those are really radical or extremist positions. Trump could seek to stay at this movement’s head and act as a kingmaker in the Republican Party, helping to shape its agenda in the coming years with the support of candidates and legislation.
He could also position himself as the head of the Biden-opposition/resistance movement with an eye towards making the country just as hard to govern as the Left tried to do while he was in office. The Democrats may succeed in impeaching Trump so he cannot run again in 2024, but if he was at the head of a well-organized MAGA movement that could pick the next Republican party nominee he may not even have to run — or want to. Trump could position himself as the right-wing version of George Soros working behind the scenes.
In closing, Trump may have left office and returned to private life, but he is not “done” in any sense of the word. He has a wide variety of options open to him and is taking with him a personally galling belief that he was cheated out of a second term. We don’t know exactly what may be next with Donald Trump, but we can be pretty sure that there will be a “next.”