By Glenn Townes
After a tumultuous, chaotic, frenzied, deceptive, and most disgraceful presidency—Donald Trump’s legacy as the leader of one of the greatest countries in the world will indeed not be a good one when history books are written about it. For a laundry list of reasons, Trump will likely go down as one of the worst American presidents in history. The list is long. For example, his sloppy and poor handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, shutting down the government for five weeks in 2018-2019–the longest time in history; separating children from their parents; impeachment and attacking the integrity of our election, the Trump legacy will be indelible. He will indeed become the one thing he didn’t want to be–a one-term president.
Not since George H.W. Bush lost to Bill Clinton in 1992 has an incumbent president failed to win a second term. And if we go way back, several other single termers are remembered for their historical failures and scandals while in office—Warren G. Harding’s corruption, Herbert Hoover’s Depression, and Andrew Johnson’s impeachment. Another one-term President—John Adams, became the first president not to win re-election way back in 1800. Historians contend Adams was unstable, impulsive, irrational, demanding, difficult to work with, and often at odds with advisors. The descriptions sound suspiciously similar to adjectives used to describe Trump. History does repeat itself.
On the contrary, some one-termers managed to salvage their reputation after failing to win a second term—most notably Jimmy Carter. The nation’s oldest living American president, at age 96, remains a much admired and revered figure. His post-presidency philanthropic endeavors, perhaps, overshadow his stint as POTUS. Carter lost to Ronald Reagan in 1980.
The election of Barack Obama in 2008 marked a turning point for America. It loudly and boldly acknowledged America’s increasing multichromatic population and supposed acceptance of the non-traditional. However, some of the progress made under Obama was pulled back and yanked away after Trump took over in 2016. Trump played the “race card” throughout his campaign. He coddled and indulged his mostly pallid base by repeatedly telling them things they wanted to hear. He said he was their “last chance” before they were assailed and overwhelmed by immigrants. They bought it and catapulted him to the White House.
Lastly, the Trump saga may not be over—with a legion of loyal cultists, a horrifying image of a Don the Con run in 2024 is not out of the question. However, given the dozens of lawsuits and other legal challenges he faces when he leaves office in January, a run for the border may be a better idea than another run for president.