There’s a Nonzero Chance Trump’s Presidential “Library” Will Be a Theme Park With Rides Like “Witch Hunt Mountain”
As Donald Trump has made abundantly clear over the past four years, he’s not one for reading, books, or the English language in general. As you might also have gleaned, he’s not big on truth or facts, and he doesn’t like accounts of American history unless they involve people begging him to be president for life and testifying that he’s smarter, stronger, and better-looking than Barack Obama. All of which is to say, it’s hard to see him following in the footsteps of his predecessors and opening a presidential library, though it’s extremely easy to imagine him building a shrine to himself that‘s less “library” in the traditional sense and more “Trump-themed amusement park featuring Adam Schiff-look-alike dunk tanks, reenactments of the 2020 election wherein an actor portraying Nancy Pelosi is seen burning Trump ballots, a Mount Rushmore replica that includes Trump’s face, and a gift shop where paying customers can go home with fake People magazine covers declaring the 45th president the Sexiest Man Alive and reproductions of Hunter Biden’s smoking gun laptop.”
As The Guardian’s David Smith noted over the weekend, Trump has not expressed any interest in building a postpresidential library or foundation, and though the previous 14 presidents created such, he’s under no obligation to do so. Trump, obviously, is not one for norms, and to build such a center might, in his warped brain, be a tacit admission that he won’t run again in 2024. On the other hand, he’s a megalomaniac who’s made an entire career out of selling his brand. More importantly, a library built by Trump could tell whatever version of history he saw fit, claiming, for example, that he actually won Pennsylvania by 10 million votes. And most importantly, he could probably get the base to fork over God knows how much cash for the privilege of visiting the place:
…a Trump presidential library, or center, or theme park, could prove an irresistible branding opportunity. Museum displays could serve up Trump’s version of history, from the “hoax” Russia investigation to the “stolen” election. And the gift shop could be a money-spinner. All told, it has the makings of a commercial hit, not only as a MAGA shrine for the 74 million people who last month voted for Trump, but for morbidly curious domestic and international tourists trying to understand an undeniably historic presidency.
“Will I pay $29.95 to go to the Donald Trump Presidential Center and Spa?” asked Paul Musgrave, assistant professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. “Probably I will find some way to make it tax deductible in true honor of the president. But I think that you really can learn a lot about a political culture from these sorts of presentations of self.”
“I could see him having a broadcast center somewhere in Florida, and it would welcome visitors almost like a little Trump theme park where they could see programs being done, eat at Trump restaurants, stay in Trump hotels, and there might be Trump carousels for the kiddies,” Truth About Trump author Michael D’Antonio told The Guardian. “Your imagination isn’t sufficient to conjure what might happen.” While Americans can visit libraries holding official papers of the previous 14 presidents, managed by the National Archives, Trump would undoubtedly take a page from Richard Nixon’s playbook when it comes to keeping the government and its meddling fact-checkers out of such an endeavor:
In 1990, [Nixon] opened a private library at his birthplace in Yorba Linda, California, that was run by loyalists and not intended to hold his official records. Its exhibition on the Watergate scandal, which caused Nixon’s resignation, was widely ridiculed as propaganda designed to exonerate him. Musgrave, who worked for the National Archives, recalled: “This was not a presidential library. It was just a museum dedicated to the greatness of Richard Nixon with a very small archive consisting of some prepresidential and postpresidential records, which were only open to a select number of researchers.