Donald Trump is running for U.S. president again. Trump’s announcement on Nov. 16, hardly a surprise given his increasingly obvious hints in the preceding weeks, is nonetheless unprecedented in recent U.S. history. Not since Herbert Hoover’s failed run for the GOP nomination in 1940 has a former president launched such a bid. That makes it hard to use U.S experience to predict how this is going to end.
But if we turn to Latin America, where ex-presidents often seek a return to office, the evidence is clear: These campaigns seldom end well. In trying to stage a comeback, ex-presidents often weaken their own parties and polarize their nation. And in those rare moments when ex-presidents do manage to return to power, they usually govern worse than in their first time around.
Since Trump crashed onto the U.S. political scene during the 2016 campaign, analysts have drawn frequent comparisons between him and leaders overseas. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro earned the moniker the “Trump of the Tropics.” Leaders ranging from the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban elicited comparisons with the former U.S. leader. Observers have noted the rise of anti-globalist parties on both the left and right as harbingers of “Global Trumpism.”