Four years later, not only is Trump about to be impeached for the second time after getting trounced in his reelection bid, the Trump brand is likely to be destroyed. Though he will never receive the full comeuppance he deserves for his myriad misdeeds, those hoping for accountability can take some satisfaction in the fact that much of what matters most to Trump — his ability to make money, but even more, his claim to be the embodiment of success — will lie in ruins.
As tarnished as the Trump brand may have been two months ago, things got worse when Trump refused to accept the results of the election, and he became utterly toxic when he incited the mob that stormed the Capitol building. Here’s some of the early backlash:
- Deutsche Bank and Signature Bank, two of the only financial institutions that in recent years were foolhardy enough to lend Trump money, announced they would no longer do business with him. Signature, which once put his daughter Ivanka on its board of directors, has called on him to resign. Professional Bank also announced that it “has decided not to engage in any further business with the Trump Organization and its affiliates.”
- Real estate giant Cushman & Wakefield, which had a long-standing partnership with the Trump Organization, announced that it “has made the decision to no longer do business with the Trump Organization.”
- New York City is moving to end all contracts it has with Trump’s company, which runs a carousel, two ice rinks and a golf course in city parks.
- Deciding that “conducting the PGA Championship at Trump Bedminster would be detrimental to the PGA of America brand,” the golfers association pulled the tournament from Trump’s course, where it was scheduled to be played in 2022.
- E-commerce provider Shopify shut down the online stores it provided for the Trump Organization and the Trump campaign.
The president’s own party is easing away from him. He has become a symbol of lying and corruption and the inability to accept defeat. His most visible supporters are deranged conspiracy theorists and violent insurrectionists. Is it any wonder that businesses don’t want to have anything to do with him?
Now ask yourself: What U.S. city is going to tolerate the building of a new Trump hotel? What bank would lend him the money to finance it? Which charities will be rushing to book events at his properties? Which foreign developers will want to pay him licensing fees to put the Trump name on their projects?
In a parallel universe, Trump gracefully accepted his defeat and went back to running the Trump Organization, his brand damaged but not destroyed and still retaining the ability to revive itself. But not in this universe.
Don’t be surprised if a year from now you see the former president on late-night TV hawking some cheesy product or pathetic new scam, the heir to Trump Steaks and Trump University. Perhaps it’ll be a newsletter where you can get exclusive Trump family business and fashion tips delivered right to your inbox, or TrumpTosterone male-enhancement pills. With no one in polite society willing to have anything to do with him, he’ll have to beg his supporters to slide a few bucks his way.
From the time he was a child, if there was one thing Trump knew, it was that he had to be a winner and everyone else was a loser. As Michael D’Antonio wrote in his 2015 biography, “He approaches all of life as an unending contest, which explains why he often uses the word winner when describing himself and calls people he dislikes losers.”
This was always his pitch, whether it was for a hotel or a seminar or the presidency: I’m a winner, and if you give me your money or your vote, you’ll be a winner, too. By the time the marks figured out that they’d been had, he’d moved on to find other suckers to take advantage of.
But now, Trump is not just a loser but a world-historical loser, the epitome of loser-dom, the loser by which all other losers will be measured.
That’s not justice — not for the hundreds of thousands who died because he bungled the coronavirus pandemic, not for the children he ripped from their parents’ arms at the border, not for the country he made so much coarser and crueler and more corrupt and divided. But at least we will know that he knows what he has become, and always will be. At a moment when there isn’t much solace to be found, it’s something.