But the best explanation for the enduring nature of Trump’s appeal is that in office he has very largely done what he promised to do on the campaign trail two years ago. I do not mean that he has extricated the United States from her ill-fated Middle Eastern adventures or that he has carried out one of the most dizzying feats in the history of engineering and construction by erecting a vast barrier along our entire southern border. I am referring to the actual content of his 2016 campaign. What Trump continues to offer his supporters — and, perhaps even more so, his critics — is the ability to participate in myth.
For his fans Trump more fully than any chief executive in living memory inhabits the office of the presidency, which he has invested with an almost monarchic character. For many within the conservative movement who blanched at the compromises of George W. Bush’s presidency, he is a hero whose iron will and contempt for received wisdom have enabled him to rise, like Siegfried, above the wretched consensus and destroy not merely their enemies but the worldview that gave rise to them. For others who lack these ideological commitments he is simply a “fighter,” a bad-ass, someone who tells it like it is. Millions of Americans whose non-existent stock portfolios have not been inflated, whose wages have failed to rise, whose health-care costs are still crippling, are devoted to him for these and a hundred other reasons that are as powerful as they are ineffable.