Why you should care
Because it's not that far-fetched.
Let’s take a semiserious trip into the not-too-distant future …
It’s the early hours of Nov. 4, 2020, and the networks have just called it: Donald Trump has been reelected president of the United States. Late-arriving returns from Wisconsin seal the 270-268 electoral college squeaker against Elizabeth Warren, even though Trump lost the popular vote by an even wider margin than in 2016. The president is triumphant but exhausted. His eldest son is feeling puckish.
Relaxing in a Trump Tower suite with a club soda and a few pals, Donald Trump Jr. fires off a tweet: “Best POTUS ever!!! Let’s do this again in 2024! #threetermpresident.” The author of a book called Triggered, the provocateur knows well how to cause a Twitter tempest. He shows his dad as the likes and RTs pile up. The president smirks.
Nov. 5, 2020
Trump gives a triumphant Roosevelt Room news conference for the White House press corps. Toward the end of the rollicking hour-and-a-half session, long after the news alerts pop that Trump blew off accusations of Saudi interference in the election and announced a pardon of Roger Stone, ABC News’ Jonathan Karl asks about that Trump Jr. tweet. “Of course you would ask such a rude and negative question,” Trump begins. “No one has ever had the kind of success that I’ve had, with a massive victory and the economy doing the best it ever has in the history of our country. Look at how much the stock market is up. I did not see what Don Jr. said. I was mostly focused on beating Pocahontas and the phony impeachment witch hunts and the fake news — really you should say I won three times. And that’s enough.”
Nov. 12, 2020
Trump does a sit-down interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson in the Map Room of the White House. Carlson begins, “Mr. President, I just want to note the overwhelming response that’s been out there with people wanting — nay, demanding — a third Trump term. What do you have to say about it?” The president smiles. “Well, Tucker, it’s funny you should ask that, because I have been hearing the same thing. And there are a great many people who are just doing great in the Trump economy, and they ask me all the time: ‘Sir, why can’t you run again?’ And I say, well, there’s this little amendment to the Constitution. And they say that shouldn’t stop anyone, so I will just say we’re taking a look at it very closely. It’s not something that I want to do but if I have to do it, it’s something that we will talk about, so we will see.”
Cable news has a meltdown. Don Lemon needs an oxygen mask that night on CNN.
Nov. 14, 2020
Headline in conservative National Review magazine: “Media loses its collective mind over silly Trump third term trial balloon.”
Nov. 17, 2020
Excerpt from a Wall Street Journal editorial: “Of course, we disagree with Trump challenging norms with a constitutionally questionable choice of running for a third term. But it’s worth pointing out how much the Democrat-media establishment loves FDR, and he won four terms.”
Dec. 13, 2020
A confidential memo from White House Counsel Pat Cipollone circulates among senior staff: “The text of the 22nd amendment to the Constitution reads, in part: ‘No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice.’ But given how the president’s opponents have called both wins illegitimate, we believe we have an opening to argue in court that they are correct — President Trump has not yet been duly elected and thus is free to run again.”
Jan. 4, 2021
Struggling to perform her duties, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg decides to retire at last.
May 14, 2021
The U.S. Senate confirms Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on a straight party-line vote, 52-48.
July 21, 2021
Trade negotiations with China blow up after President Xi Jinping refuses to budge on protecting intellectual property. Trump issues a 100 percent tariff on all Chinese imports. China captures a U.S. destroyer performing a freedom of navigation mission in the South China Sea. Talk of a trade war veers into talk of a shooting war.
July 23, 2021
Aides urge Trump to ask the TV networks for time for a prime-time speech about the China showdown to underscore the gravity of the situation. Instead, he tweets: “We will DOMINATE China’s puny economy and military, but President Xi has a big advantage on us because he doesn’t have stupid term limits!!!”
July 25, 2021
On Fox News Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham calls on Trump to run for a third term to see the China conflict through, calling it a “life or death issue for America.” Supportive statements start to flow in from Republicans across Capitol Hill.
July 27, 2021
Trump tweets a video produced by his social media team announcing the launch of Trump 2024: America Will Always Be Greater Than China.
July 28, 2021
In a tense meeting in the Capitol basement, U.S. House Democrats weigh whether to impeach Trump again for running for a third term but decide to wait and see what the polling says.
June 30, 2022
In a 5-4 vote, with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the court’s diminished liberal wing, the Supreme Court rules in favor of allowing Trump to run for a third term. Writing for the majority, Justice Brett Kavanaugh cites the ongoing national emergency over China and the “conspiracy theories” that denied Trump his proper due for his first two wins.
Don Jr. tweets: “Liberal tears are the perfect thirst-quencher this time of year!!”