Salvo 09.13.2023 5 minutes

Farewell, Trump 45.5

Celebrity Sightings In New York City – September 04, 2023

A half-measure whose time may have come.

“Trump 45.5”? Please let me explain.

The 45th president has an opportunity to address his aged successor’s decline gracefully, but forcefully and strategically. With this strategy, Trump can draw a meaningful contrast between Biden and himself while positioning a younger successor as a done deal. This can also save the GOP and the country, if you’re keeping score. (Yes, the assumption here is that Trump will likely be the GOP nominee. You may wish it were not so, but wishes don’t win general elections, at least not for conservatives.)

Trump could campaign on the explicit promise to step down from office and go back to Mar-a-Lago (or the Fulton County jail) immediately after the expiration of the two-year period referred to in the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution, concerning term limits. It states that “no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once.”

Translation: If a reelected President Trump steps down on or after January 20, 2027—let’s play it safe and make it on or after January 21, since January 20 won’t be a full day of either president’s term—his VP can serve out the rest of Trump’s term and then go on to his or her own election in 2028 and, thanks to the half-measure, his or her reelection in 2032. That’s 12 years of GOP control of the White House to try to recover from Biden.

Trump could therefore campaign on the promise to resign in midstream—what he could call his “Farewell Promise to the American People.”

With this promise, Trump could say that, unlike Biden, he recognizes that the country needs younger leaders, and when he (Trump) steps down halfway through his second term, he’ll be 80, which is two years younger than Biden would be at Biden’s second inauguration. “My friends, I’ll be sharper at 80 than Biden was when he was 18, but you never know what will happen to anyone, even a very stable genius. Why should our beloved country have to throw the dice like that again? I won’t put you through it. I’m going to do in advance what my decrepit opponent should have done years ago.”

Trump could emerge from this as a great patriot with a whiff of humility (just a whiff—this is Trump, after all). He could compare himself favorably to Washington in his renunciation of power (“I out-renounced him—and Cincinnatus too!”).

Also, this may be the only way for him to fill his VP spot and cabinet with anyone above the quality level of a Sidney Powell. “Join the team; you’ll have to put up with me for just two years. And I promise to golf a lot during those two years.”

Enforcing the Promise

Ah, but how can we trust Trump to actually comply with this promise? We can’t, of course, without more. Maybe he could sign the promise in blood—literally blood. But that may be too theatrical and lurid even for him. There’s a better solution, however: Shorten the promise period and move ASAP to resignation—resignation before reelection.

At some point during the campaign in 2024, he could fulfill the “Farewell Promise to the American People,” by signing, in a solemn ceremony, his actual resignation letter. The letter, though dated 2024, could state that it is effective at a specified time on January 21, 2027—irrevocably, unconditionally, etc.

A resignation letter addressed to whom, you ask? Nixon addressed his to Kissinger, as Secretary of State, but there’s no reason to be that narrow (and people will worry that a fortuitous vacancy in that office on January 21, 2027 might render Trump’s resignation ineffective). Trump’s letter could have a salutation Trumpishly grander, like this: “To the members of the Cabinet and the Congress of the United States in office on January 21, 2027, and most of all, to my BELOVED FELLOW AMERICAN CITIZENS!” The letter could even riff off The Apprentice by working in a reference to his firing himself.

To add to the theater, there could be witnesses, a notary public, White House stationery (you just know he has reams of it stashed away), red sealing wax, and additional gold seals (this is Trump, after all). This could be followed by the solemn deposit of the document in a safe within a vault (a distinct upgrade from the conditions alleged in the federal documents case).

Running on the explicit promise of a half term gets Trump all these benefits, plus a slogan like “Trump 45.5!” or “Trump 45 and a half!” Let the focus groups gather.

The absurdity of our situation is such that this is something like a serious suggestion.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

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