During Trump’s Georgia rally on Monday night in support of Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, the president told the large, enthusiastic crowd, “I’m going to be here in a year and a half, and I’m going to be campaigning against your governor and your crazy secretary of state, I guarantee you.”
Such electoral bravado heralded Trump’s post-presidency visions of grandeur. Before Tuesday’s election results, he was on track to become one of the most influential former presidents in history. In November, he lost reelection but won a record 74.2 million votes with “77% of Republicans believing there was widespread fraud,” according to a December Quinnipiac poll.
What follows is an assessment of Trump’s post-presidency before Monday and after Wednesday’s “Siege of Capitol Hill” — widely reported as an insurrection and assault on democracy.
BEFORE: Trump is highly motivated to prove that he was not and is not a “loser.”
For Trump’s psyche, there is nothing worse than to be labeled a “loser.” (Refer to niece Mary Trump’s bestselling book, “Too Much and Never Enough” for all the family background.) She explains why during the presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly said, “the only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged.”
Nonetheless, give Trump credit for being transparent before, and then after the election for successfully convincing his supporters (along with many Republican officeholders) that contrary to court rulings at every level, the election was “stolen.”
AFTER: The loser label has become a tattoo.
Let the record show that Trump, as leader of the Republican Party, presided over his party losing control of the executive and legislative branches of government. After Tuesday’s election debacle, he is rightly being blamed for losing the Senate after Democrats won both Georgia seats.
BEFORE: Flirting with a 2024 presidential run.
Continually teasing his 2024 plans is a ploy for Trump to remain in the media spotlight. Most important, it is a significant fundraising boost that keeps his ardent supporters engaged.
AFTER: Dead — stick a fork in it. If Trump continues the “flirt,” it will be perceived as the ravings of a mad man. The “Trumpican Party” I wrote about in June of 2020 died on Jan. 6, 2021, after its “troops” tried and failed to “take the Hill” and overturn a presidential election. Worse for Trump, due to bi-partisan disgust, there is a slight chance he could be an ex-president before his term officially ends at noon on Jan. 20. Moreover, his access to Facebook and Instagram are denied for an undetermined length of time.
BEFORE: Trump refuses to concede the presidency.
He is besieged with a strong and unending desire to avenge (in his words) the “fraudulent,” “stolen,” “illegal,” and “rigged” election worthy of a “third-world country,” repeatedly insisting that he “won in a “landslide.”
AFTER: Since Twitter froze the president’s account on Wednesday, senior adviser Dan Scavino tweeted on Jan. 7, 2021, at 3:49 AM (note the time) on Trump’s behalf:
Statement by President Donald J. Trump on the Electoral Certification:
“Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th. I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again!”
Then on Thursday night, Trump made another statement in a prerecorded video that could be perceived as a concession of sorts since he acknowledged the “new administration.”
But you know the tide has turned after Trump lost the support of Sen. Lindsey Graham.
BEFORE: Trump’s Save America PAC raises at least $66 million.
Fighting the “fraudulent” election is very lucrative.
At Trump’s disposal are at least $66 million in the coffers of his Save America PAC he can use for “political activities” to support/fight any incumbent or new candidate, cause, or issue that serves his needs or agenda.
AFTER: How “political activities” will be defined by Team Trump is anyone’s guess, but millions have a good chance of being spent on legal bills. How toxic Trump’s brand becomes during his post-presidency will determine if any candidates want his financial support.
BEFORE: Holding rallies as a “kingmaker” and Republican Party leader.
At rallies that Trump inevitably planned to have to maintain and solidify his standing as a “winner” and leader of the Republican Party, one could surmise that the “stolen” election was inevitably going to be a central theme.
AFTER: If rallies resume at all, they are likely to be greatly diminished. As a result of what looks to be the last rally of his presidency, Trump is blamed for inciting the violent takeover attempt of the Capitol. The timing was planned to occur while Congress was in a joint session certifying the Electoral College results declaring Joe Biden as the 46th president.
If you are unsure whether Trump deserves blame for the Capitol siege, read the 1.13-hour rally speech for more insight.
The rally and speech were meant to energize the thousands of MAGA troops proudly waving Trump banners. Keep in mind the event was planned and promoted for weeks, designed to bring his most loyal supporters to Washington for the last stand to “stop the steal.” Here is what Trump said at the end of his now infamous rally:
“And we fight. We fight like Hell and if you don’t fight like Hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
“We’re going to try and give our Republicans, the weak ones, because the strong ones don’t need any of our help, we’re going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”
Trump gave “walking” orders to the Capitol and the rest is history.
BEFORE: Trump’s narcissistic need to stay in the headlines as the center of attention.
Media attention is a proven way for him to stay “powerful” to enhance his “winning” Trump brand in politics, business, and upcoming court battles.
AFTER: He will still garner attention for as long as he lives. But most likely, his post-presidency influence will dramatically fade.
BEFORE: An aura of fear.
Fear that Trump will attack anyone who is not sufficiently loyal to him (assisted by his 88.7 million Twitter followers and “Trump media.”)
AFTER: Trump will resume tweeting in his post-presidency but perhaps somewhat defanged. He will go down in history with very mixed reviews. But ultimately, as an impeached president (remember that?) who tried to overturn his reelection defeat by inciting followers who damaged the building (literally and figurately) — the symbol of a great nation that stands for the virtues of democracy throughout the world.
BEFORE: “Best President since Reagan” or “Lincoln” — take your pick.
In January 2020, I wrote a piece with the headline quote, ‘If Trump Wasn’t Trump, He’d Be Reagan.’ Within, I requoted the Palm Beach Post reporting a Republican National Committee official who said, “‘I used to say that President Trump is our best president since Ronald Reagan. I don’t say that anymore. I say President Trump is our best president since Abraham Lincoln,’ he said to cheers.”
Need I say more? Seriously, this was the thinking of “mainstream” Trump supporters.
AFTER: Trump’s post-presidency could get weird or turn tragic. Reports about pardoning himself could drown his legacy in a sea of scorn and disdain.
On the brighter side, Trump could stage a comeback. And perhaps that effort began Thursday night in the previously mentioned “concession” video when he ended saying, “And to all of my wonderful supporters, I know you are disappointed. But I also want you to know that our incredible journey is only just beginning.”
Will his loyal supporters go along for the ride? Politico’s Thursday night headline read, “Trump’s grip on GOP grassroots holds fast” with the subhead, quoting a Florida GOP leader, “ ‘The Trump name in the Republican Party is stronger than it has ever been.’ ”
Remember, with Donald J. Trump, never count him out and always expect the unexpected.