Washington Elites Discuss Exile if Trump Returns to Power

Talk of Escape: Trump’s Possible Return Rattles D.C.

Washington Braces for Trump’s Potential Return

There’s a question that’s being whispered at dinner parties and receptions in Washington: Where would you go if it really happens? If Donald Trump, the former President, makes a return to power, where might people in the nation’s capital seek refuge?

Speculations about Possible Exile

For example, a former member of Congress thinks Portugal would be a good choice. For a former agency director, Australia is their pick. A Biden administration official prefers Canada, while a liberal columnist opts for France. A former investigator would choose Poland. These possibilities are being brought up in jest, but there’s an edge to the humor.

Washington, in many cases, is preparing for the very real possibility of Trump’s return, this time with a mission of “retribution”. In these discussions, there’s an underlying sense of anxiety about a potential self-imposed exile.

An Indicator of the Grim Mood

Whether these speculations are serious or not, they reflect the somber mood among many in the capital. The anxiety goes beyond the normal disappointment of a lost election. It captures the fear of a would-be president who speaks of being a dictator for a day, who promises to “root out” enemies he labels as “vermin,” who threatens to prosecute his adversaries, and whose lawyers argue he may have immunity even if he orders the assassination of political rivals.

Trump as the Disrupter of the Elite

However, all this fear is fine with Trump and his allies. They believe that Washington’s fear is the point. Trump is seen as the disrupter of the elite, aiming to break up their corrupt hold on power. For them, the more unsettled Washington is about his return, the more his base around the country, which feels alienated from the people in power, supports him.

A Different Washington

Trump’s flirtation with authoritarian figures and language has raised the specter of a vastly different Washington, even compared to his first term. His rhetoric this time around is centered more than ever on power and how he would increase it and use it if he won again.

A Spectrum of Seriousness

How serious are people about leaving? The spectrum is wide. Some, like former Representative Stephanie Murphy, Democrat of Florida, are mostly joking. But others are actually researching family history to see if they could qualify for a passport from, say, Ireland, Poland or Germany. They’re updating passports and looking at property to buy in Europe. Some have even hired lawyers to explore their options.

These talks of potential exile are not a trivial conversation or purely humor. While some express optimism that American institutions would prevent major injustices, anyone targeted by Trump could still be made “miserable” by investigations, grand juries, lawyer fees, and career-killing publicity.

Whether this dread is overplayed or not, the idea that a second Trump term might force people to consider leaving the country is now part of the discourse in Washington. It remains to be seen how these speculations will impact the political landscape as we move closer to the next election cycle.