Can Donald Trump Run For President In 2024 If He Loses To Joe Biden?

If President Donald J. Trump loses the 2020 US election, what happens then? This is the question that has been making headlines and generating political think pieces for many months now. Some, such as The Guardian and Foreign Policy, have darkly predicted that Trump, pathologically unable to accept defeat, could refuse to peacefully hand over the presidency. However, others, such as the academic Salvadore Babones, have suggested that the idea of such a standoff is "ridiculous." Rather, critics are now trying to predict what the former reality TV star's long-term strategy might be once he finds out he has to hand over the keys to the White House to Joe Biden.

Many suggest that the outgoing president will not take his defeat lying down. If his past form in the world of business is anything to go by, Trump's retreat will be loud and aggressive, with claims his defeat was forced upon him "by the liberal elite, by the mainstream media, by ballot fraud, by Democratic judges, by Republican Never Trumpers, by the coronavirus, by whatever," according to Babones.

Then, the wounded former president will look for a way to crowbar himself back into power, with his eye, once again, on the top job. But the question is: Is it possible? The short answer to that is "yes," thanks to the 22nd Amendment of the US Constitution.

A precedent president and the two-term rule

The US Constitution is meant to keep everything in order, to lay down the fundamentals of American democracy and to make sure everyone's on the same page when it comes to what you can and can't do in US politics. However, so much of how it is used is based on long debates over how the wording of certain passages of the document are — or are not — meant to be interpreted. The 22nd Amendment is no exception.

It begins as follows: "No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice." According to the National Constitution Center, the 22nd Amendment was ratified in 1951, after Franklin D. Roosevelt's run of four terms in the Oval Office. The key to unraveling whether a defeated Trump could run for office again in 2024 rests on the use of the word "elected." Technically, a president who serves two consecutive terms — such as Barack Obama, for instance — is elected twice. In Obama's case, this happened first in 2008 and again in 2012, after which he was no longer eligible to run again in 2016.

Trump has only been elected once, so if he fails to win re-election this year, he is technically able to run for the presidency in 2024. However, there has only ever been one president to serve two non-consecutive terms: Grover Cleveland, who lost re-election in 1888 but regained the White House in 1892.

Donald isn't the only Trump in the running

But while many commentators argue that Trump's combative personality makes it highly likely that he will soon attempt to return to the forefront of American politics in the event of his defeat in the 2020 presidential election, there are a few practical reasons to think that he may not.

First among these is are his age and health. Donald Trump was 70 when he became president and holds the record of being the oldest person to receive inauguration. Now 74, he is only beaten by Reagan, who was 77 when he left office, in the league table of the oldest presidents of all time. Trump will be 78 by the time the next presidential election rolls around, and although Biden is already 77, Trump's health over the next few years will be pivotal. Trump has had a recent brush with ill health when he contracted COVID-19, and with many patients reporting long-term health problems as a result of the virus, Trump may find that he has symptoms for some time yet.

However, we must remember that "Trump" doesn't refer to just one man — it's a dynasty. Commentators have long suggested that Trump's daughter, Ivanka, holds political ambitions, while his son, Donald Jr., recently retweeted a banner made by Trump supporters that read "Don Jr. 2024," according to The Guardian. So, whatever happens in the 2020 election, we can pretty much be sure that the Trumps won't be going away anytime soon.