At the same time, Trump’s actual defeats were the work of very conventional political campaigning: a midterm campaign in which the Democrats organized around health care and other kitchen-table issues and a presidential election in which they nominated their most moderate candidate and ran on normalcy and decency, casting Trump as a terrible person and a bad president but not a Mussolini in the making.
Then, too, the gains from the Resistance mentality came with a political price. The anti-Trump closing-of-ranks within elite institutions helped shore up the president’s populist bona fides, his claim to represent outsiders and non-elites, even when his actual policies favored insiders and the rich. The tendency to see an authoritarian depredation behind every policy move, however banal, weakened the credibility of the media, especially putatively neutral outlets like CNN. The pitch of anti-Trumpism bound once-dubious Republicans to his cause, almost matching the mobilization on the Democratic side.
And the liberal belief that Trump was obviously, self-evidently a white supremacist and semi-fascist left liberalism somewhat blindsided by the voters who disagreed: not just the white shy-Trumpers of the suburbs but also the Trump-voting Latinos and African-Americans who helped keep the 2020 race competitive, denying Biden his blowout and the Resistance the full repudiation of Trumpism that it sought.