The term Tea Party was fading out, but he’d cracked its code. The power of his appeal was not rooted in policy or ideology. He was offering, as David Brooks wrote this week, “to shred the dominant American culture and to give voice to those who felt voiceless in that culture.” And not to give a damn about the party establishment or the conventions of politics along the way. It got him the GOP nomination and just enough converts in the Rust Belt to eke out an Electoral College win.
This is why his presidency has produced no meaningful legislative feats. The commitment of the Trump base to doing away with Obamacare is mainly attitudinal. The legislation Republicans have come up with has generated, at best, a lukewarm response from GOP voters — and wide disapproval from the rest of the electorate. Trump himself has seemed detached from and uninterested in the process, as if he senses that legislative sausage-making might rebrand him as exactly the kind of politician he ran against.