In some ways, the belief in Trump-as-Reagan mirrors the Never Trump delusion of early 2016, where Trump skeptics (like me) believed that at some point the bubble would pop and Trump would come down to earth. That never happened because it turned out there wasn’t a bubble: Trump was what he was: A guy with 45 percent support in a field of 17 candidates. Which was enough to win the nomination.
And so the people for whom Trump is destined to be Reagan are deluding themselves, too. Trump isn’t going to suddenly become so popular that he shifts the landscape of American politics. He is what he is: A guy with 42 percent approval and no real prospect of getting to 50 percent. Which, in 2020, might be good enough to win another tight general election. Or might not.
There is no realignment. No coalition. No promised land. There is no version of this story where Trump’s presidency is anything but a joyless slog which humiliates his defenders, debases the nation, enrages the left, and repulses independents. Now maybe that’s enough. Heck, maybe that’s all Republicans really want these days.