It has been five days since Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election, and in that time President Donald Trump has refused to concede. Instead, Trump is cleaning house, removing senior Defense Department officials and replacing them with his loyalists, CNN reports. These moves, coming from the highest office in the nation, should be concerning to everyone watching: Even if Trump doesn’t succeed in his attempt to maintain control of the White House, it looks like he is going to try either way.
But rumors that Trump told advisers he’s considering a third presidential run in 2024 might offer us all some peace of mind — at least for the foreseeable future. Two anonymous sources who spoke with Axios on Monday stated that Trump had discussed a 2024 run, and another anonymous source said the same to Reuters. If nothing else, Trump’s internal conversations might at least signal that he knows he lost the 2020 election. Although, seeing how Trump has both dominated and spun media narratives the last four years, even if he does concede, he may stick to his disproven story that the election was rife with voter fraud.
If Trump does, in fact, choose to run again, it would foil any chances of a presidential run from Vice President Mike Pence or any of Trump’s adult children, namely Ivanka or Donald Jr. Pundits have speculated that any of them could run for office in 2024, but Trump loyalists wouldn’t likely jump ship for one of his political allies or children, despite the fact that Trump would be 78 years old at that point.
Before we speculate any further, the real question remains: is Trump even allowed to run a third time in the next presidential election? Well, the answer is yes and there is a precedent. Presidents are legally allowed to serve two terms in office, and they don’t need to be consecutive. When President Grover Cleveland lost his second term to Benjamin Harrison in 1889, he went on to run again four years later and won, becoming both the 22nd and 24th U.S. president.
What’s more, Republicans who have been loyal to Trump believe he has a chance, and his family is already making moves to expand their influence at the Republican National Committee, CNN reports. According to Sen. Lindsey Graham, if the president “falls short” of winning the 2020 election, he should “not let his movement die” and “consider running again.” In an interview Monday with Fox News Radio’s The Brian Kilmeade Show, Graham added, “I would encourage him to think about doing it.”
Now as we await the president's official concession in the 2020 election, we can also start dreading his next run for president in four years. But whether or not Trump chooses to run again for a second term, it would be remiss for anyone to believe that Trump’s authoritarian transformation of U.S. political institutions will be easily undone. And if this country’s leadership has in fact learned nothing from the Trump administration and attempts a revert back to the status quo, it’s only a matter of time before another, perhaps more respectable and more efficient version of Trump comes along.