Someday I will do one of these commentaries without mentioning Donald Trump, but not soon and certainly not today.
Today I’ll explore the range of possibilities that exist for Trump after noon on January 20. Not included is his being inaugurated for a second term. The catastrophizers need to get back on their meds.
Let’s start with the book ends. There is the scenario in which he rides off into the sunset into a quiet and peaceful retirement in Florida to play golf. I’ll pause here to let the derisive laughter subside.
There is the opposite scenario in which, on his way out of town and channeling his inner Grover Cleveland, a fellow New Yorker, he forms his Re-elect Trump in 2024 committee. I’ll return to this scenario momentarily.
In between are many possibilities. One involves wearing an orange jump suit in a New York State penitentiary. He may not get prosecuted for, or may be pardoned -- maybe by himself -- from federal lawbreaking charges, but he is not immune from prosecution in New York state courts.
None of the remaining possibilities are mutually exclusive. Extremely serious financial problems, brought on by his nine-figure personal debt, may require liquidation of many of his marquee properties.
Or to raise money to cover debt he may launch one or more new enterprises. Trump TV has been mentioned, although starting and running a cable television network would require more focus and discipline than he demonstrated as president or even CEO of his business empire. Or he could just return to his existing businesses and focus on profitability, profit being an exotic concept for him.
And/or he could stay in politics, either by declaring for president or not. If he does not clearly remove himself from the 2024 equation, he paralyzes Republican politics. Who is going to launch a campaign, and risk the wrath of Trump’s base, if there is the slightest possibility he will be a candidate? Since he does not care about Republican politics and never has, it won’t be a problem for him.
Of course he could run as an independent, but that would be a different problem for Republicans. He would get millions of votes, most of which would ordinarily be Republican, and this would hurt down-ballot Republicans as well.
Your guess is as good as mine about what he will do. You will probably come closest to guessing right if you remember that his decisions will be whatever best furthers his personal, family and business interests.
Dr. Terry Smith is a Political Science Professor at Columbia College and a regular commentator on KBIA's Talking Politics.