Trump has only been in office for a few weeks and people are already wondering how long he will last. Will he resign, be impeached or even assassinated? Or will he defy his critics and last the full two terms as he suggested in that dire press briefing at Trump Tower back in January?
Let’s get the easy one out of the way – he is extremely unlikely to be assassinated. Just like his predecessors he will have excellent security, and the kind of people likely to bear arms probably support him anyway. During the presidential campaign, Trump gained support from gun owners by saying Hillary wanted to take away guns, and even made a vague suggestion that someone should stop her by shooting her.
Impeachment is harder to predict, although even at this early stage there are possibilities. Investigations into his business interests show that they might not have been severed as cleanly as promised. There is also the more visible matter of his disregard for the US Judicial System which goes as high as the Supreme Court. To make matters worse, he has made enemies within his own Republican party, and government departments such as the CIA.
What is more likely is a resignation before the end of his first term. His approval rating a few weeks after entering office is just 41%. That’s especially bad given that a massive campaign to secure voter approval and win the election has only just finished. Usually a president starts with a high approval rating and it tails off as the term progresses. Going south from 41% is going to be unpleasant. There are tough times ahead for both the United States and Trump.
The most likely reason for Trump to resign is because of who he is and the life he has led. His story is not one of rags to riches, it’s riches to riches. He’s led a sheltered and privileged life, living in a bubble of ‘yes men’. Criticism or even constructive feedback is not something he will have had much exposure to. As a TV personality he understands that you live and die by your popularity ratings and whether people are talking about you. He shows clear signs of not being able to ignore or deal with criticism. And Trump has been the target for significant criticism, protest and negative TV coverage. This was happening before the election result but it’s intensified since he moved into the White House. His social media platform of choice is full of angry tweets from all over the world.
It’s easy to think of the President of the United States as a very powerful man, and Trump certainly is, but there is also a lot of evidence that the man behind the job title is insecure and craves acceptance. Some of the opinions and policies that are making him unpopular aren’t even his own, but originate from people like Steve Bannon. That wont make it any easier to deal with criticism and a dwindling approval rating.
Trump currently appears to be a man in a living hell, where a dream to become the most powerful man in America somehow came true and he has woken up to a reality that is far removed from the dream. He’s isolated in the White House, and is apparently obsessed with watching his critics on CNN. If you don’t like him, take some comfort in the fact that he now exists in his own personal Twilight Zone.
Assuming Trump is still in the job after two years, he will have to deal with mid-term elections. It’s normal even for a popular president to lose ground in the mid-terms, but Trump is likely to suffer a huge blow. A good proportion of his voters were sold on pledges to end corruption, bring jobs home and take on Wall Street, but these already feel like distant memories. His more extreme policies and erratic behaviour will cost even more votes.
After the mid-terms, the job of president will become even more challenging if the majority in congress is lost, as Obama found during both his terms. A year of roadblocks in Congress on top of being chipped away at by his critics on Twitter and numerous mainstream media outlets is going to take it’s toll.
By the time his third year starts he will have had enough.