His proposal to rename U.S. Route 27 after Trump received a predictably mixed reaction. For every supporter cheering on the idea, there were the likes of gun-control activist and Florida native David Hogg pointing out that the highway leads to a swamp.
As Trump leaves office, the debate over Sabatini’s plan isn’t likely to be the last about what public facilities, if any, should be named in his honor. Will students one day start first grade at Donald J. Trump Elementary School? Will you be able to go birdwatching at the Donald J. Trump National Wildlife Refuge? Pay your traffic tickets at the Donald J. Trump Courthouse?
After a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, leading to Trump’s second impeachment, that prospect has become even more fraught. In the wake of the attacks, both Democratic Reps. Joaquin Castro (Tex.) and Linda T. Sánchez (Calif.) announced plans to introduce legislation banning federal property from ever being named in Trump’s honor. Sanchez went so far as to tell People magazine that “not even a bench” should “ever bear the name of this traitor.”
“Donald Trump should never become a future generation’s confederate symbol,” Castro tweeted, referencing the ongoing movement to remove the names of white supremacists, enslavers and defenders of the Confederacy from public spaces.
As the Architect’s Newspaper reported, such a ban would be unprecedented. After former president Bill Clinton was impeached, he still got a federal office complex named after him. And former president Richard Nixon, who offers perhaps the closest parallel to Trump, managed to get two elementary schools named after him before he resigned in disgrace. “Efforts come up once in a while to change the name, but nothing has gained momentum,” Carol Cherry, a teacher at Nixon Elementary School in Landing, N.J., told Time in 2016.
Between Trump’s hotels, golf clubs and casinos, there’s no shortage of buildings bearing his name. There’s even a planned Israeli settlement named for him in the contested Golan Heights, and a square honoring him in Jerusalem. One Albanian city has a Donald J. Trump Boulevard. And Kalispell, Mont., is home to Trump Drive, which sits just north of Carnegie Drive and Vanderbilt Drive off Empire Loop.
But even in states where a majority of voters supported Trump in 2016 and 2020, the idea of naming a highway in his honor has gained little traction.
In 2019, one Republican lawmaker in Oklahoma tried to rename a stretch of old U.S. Route 66 after Trump but was shut down by members of his own party. Some worried that doing so would discourage tourists, while others objected to changing the name of one of the country’s most iconic roads. An attempt to place Trump’s name on a more obscure highway in the Oklahoma Panhandle last year was also unsuccessful.
South Carolina’s Republican-dominated legislature, too, rejected a bill to name a highway interchange after Trump in 2020. Some conservative lawmakers expressed reluctance about naming roads after living people, while another noted that there was a competing proposal to name the interchange after former president Barack Obama and dismissed both bills as “a big political game.”
Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is a committed Trump supporter, may prove to be a different story. But Sabatini’s efforts to rename the highway could easily be overshadowed by the numerous calls for his resignation in the wake of inflammatory comments and a blackface photo scandal.
And according to the Daily Beast, Trump has spent some of the final weeks of his presidency dropping hints that what he really wants is to see his name on an airport.