What Happens to Former Presidents?

Presidents are famous while they are in office. What happens to presidents once they leave their post? This question is especially relevant now that Barack Obama’s second term is ending.

Summarized below are the post-presidencies of Obama’s five most recent predecessors: Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush.

Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter was president from 1977 to 1981. After his term ended, Jimmy Carter started the Carter Presidential Center, a nonprofit organization focusing on human rights issues abroad. The Carter Center has done a number of notable things over the years. These include helping pass the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act in 2008 that helps people get affordable health care, helping wipe out Guinea Worm Disease, a painful infection caused by a waterborne parasite, and monitoring over 100 elections in 39 different countries. The organization is still active today. In 2002, Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize for his decades of human rights and negotiation work during and after his presidency.

Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan was president from 1981 to 1989. When he left office, Reagan gave speeches and wrote his memoirs. In 1994, Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Ronald Reagan died in 2004. His death raised awareness of Alzheimer’s disease.

George H. W. Bush

George H. W. Bush was president from 1989 to 1993. After his presidency, he was involved in a number of activities including sitting on the board of a hospital. In 2004 an enormous tsunami in the Indian Ocean killed around 200,000 people and displaced close to 2 million. Together with his political rival Bill Clinton (see below) he founded the Bush-Clinton Tsunami Fund for rebuilding structures destroyed by the tsunami and raised several million dollars.

Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton was president from 1993 to 2001. After his presidency, Clinton wrote two books and helped found both the Bush-Clinton Tsunami Fund (see above), and the Clinton Foundation. The Clinton Foundation is a charity whose goals include improving public health, especially with respect to HIV/AIDS, and eliminating poverty worldwide. Both Clinton and the Clinton Foundation were criticized by Republicans in the recent election. The foundation came under fire for alleged contacts between donors and Hillary Clinton, when she was Secretary of State. Clinton himself was targeted for infidelity and alleged sexual assault.

George W. Bush

George W. Bush was president from 2001 to 2009. After his presidency, Bush moved back to Texas, and took up painting as a hobby. He wrote his memoirs, but has otherwise largely retired from public life.

What comes next?

President Obama is leaving office soon, and many are wondering what he will do next. Some have predicted that he will move to Silicon Valley. Others have predicted that he will go back into politics to speak out against Donald Trump. Obama himself has said that he will continue to fight for the rights of young people, specifically, and continue the work he has done in office.