Trump In Exile Could Still Pose a Dangerous Threat to Democracy
He broke the country. But if he has his way, America will welcome him back.
In the election of 1824, a time of tumult by working men who felt excluded from the new economy of the nascent Industrial Age, Andrew Jackson beat John Quincy Adams for the presidency. It was a short-lived triumph. While Jackson won the most popular and electoral votes, there were a total of four candidates, and he failed to reach the required threshold of 131 in the Electoral College. A House commission, appointed to make the final election decision, picked Adams, the second-highest vote-getter, to become the sixth U.S. president. The combative and domineering Jackson, livid over the dismissal of his far clearer mandate, vowed revenge.
For the next four years, Jackson and his supporters pummeled Adams. In 1828, they won vindication, this time overwhelming Adams with 56% of the popular vote and 178 electoral votes. Jackson became the first Democratic Party president and, by force of personality, went on to tower over U.S. political culture for decades and longer.
With the election of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States, the 2020s appear to be shaping up in a way that very much resembles the populist Age of Jackson two centuries ago. If the decade does play out this way, Trump will spend the next four years, starting now, bitterly asserting he was robbed. Backed by his ultra-fervent army of still-loyal supporters, he will spoil for a vengeance election in 2024. And in this show of grievance, much in keeping with the governing and campaign style of the last four years, Trump would be out of power, but Trumpism would not be.
While Biden will finish with the largest popular vote count in U.S. presidential election history, Trump will be second — ahead of Obama.
In a roller-coaster campaign, Biden promised an end to all-cap Twitter screeds, around-the-clock turbulence, grown-man threats, tantrums, and paroxysms of righteous indignation. That may happen, but if so, it appears likely to be a short reprieve. The tradition of the loser gracefully congratulating the winner is a norm, not a law…