President Donald Trump has an opportunity to build the best presidential library in U.S. history. None of his predecessors was a builder. And none lived in Florida, with a massive tourism industry and a regulatory climate favoring development.
Journalists and Democrats have already begun a campaign to prevent Trump from ever building a presidential library. Not just because they hate him, but also because they know it could be the best.
Trump has not yet tipped his hand about any library plans. But his supporters are a creative bunch, and could begin “crowdsourcing” a library design, just as they often came up with his best ads, memes, and slogans.
In that spirit, here are seven guidelines that a Trump library should follow:
1. Profitable. The Trump presidential library should be financially independent of the federal government. It should be an attraction that pays for itself — not just through admission tickets, but through resort packages, conventions, and green fees (see below). A Trump library should serve as a model of the capitalist system that he championed in his business life, and that he fought hard to defend and expand as president.
2. Beachfront. The Trump library should include a stretch of coastline where visitors can enjoy the Florida sun. Visitors who don’t want to spend time at a library or museum could still enjoy swimming, surfing, or boating. The library could commit to maintaining the beach and restoring sand dunes, estuaries, and fisheries. Given enough land, the library could also include hiking trails, complete with birdwatching hides.
3. Golf course. What is a Trump property without a golf course? 18 holes of championship-grade golf, open to the public, would make the Trump presidential library a landmark. Though the PGA has snubbed Trump lately, owing to the pressure of “cancel culture,” the Trump library course could develop its own reputation among professionals and amateurs alike. It could devote particular attention to the development of promising young golfers from underprivileged backgrounds.
4. Research. Unlike Barack Obama’s own troubled presidential library (see below), Trump’s library could commit to the preservation of his actual papers and archives onsite. The facility, built to be hurricane-proof, would provide material for professional scholars and students alike. It could also include special exhibits from the Trump presidency: some of the prototypes for the border wall, for example, and a special “Fake News” wing devoted to the period’s worst journalism.
5. Think Tank. Trump’s legacy would best be preserved through the creation of an in-house think tank at the library, one that would advocate for his “America first” policies. Scholars in residence could include economists, national security experts, engineers, and historians who would offer a uniquely Trumpian perspective on the policy issues and debates of the moment. The think tank could also offer training for politicians to rival Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
6. Tower. The Trump presidential library could include a tower, set back from the coast, combining a hotel and residential condominiums, much like other Trump properties. The tower could include all the usual vacation amenities: a pool, a gym, a spa, fine dining options, and a shopping center. Residents could boast one of the most prestigious addresses in Florida.
7. Timeliness. Obama left office in 2016, but his library will not be built until nearly a decade later — and that is under optimistic scenarios. As Richard Epstein noted in the recent Libertarian podcast, Obama’s library is a design catastrophe that has run into opposition from the local community. Trump could eclipse Obama (again) by building his library first. And unlike Obama’s monolith, the Trump library would be something locals, and Americans in general, would embrace.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.