He’s morphed into Trump The Transformer.
We can now say we’re entering the age of Trump. It’s been a long march to this moment. Around this time last year, the summer of Scaramucci, Donald Trump’s staffing was an unholy mess, his poll numbers hit new lows and the GOP health care initiative died in Congress. Perhaps Trump could not govern, some speculated. But a year later, and just a few months before the midterm elections, Trump is most definitely in charge — and he is changing the character of America step by step.
Every President’s first midterm contest is about the President; it’s a referendum on how they’re doing, a chance for the opposition to mobilize and throw congressional roadblocks in front of the executive’s agenda. Few midterms, however, will be quite as angry or polarized as the upcoming one, and not because 2018 represents a vote in the context of Trump’s failure. Because it’s a vote at a moment of his success.
Trump continues his streak of surprises. First, he won the election, then he proved far better at manipulating the media, setting the issue agenda and exerting executive authority than might have been expected. He has slowly colonized the Republican Party, achieving a growing uniformity of opinion. The fact that all of this “winning” is not reflecting in his opinion polls – which still put his job approval below 50% — only demonstrates that for Trump to triumph in his own particular way, he has to alienate a lot of people on the other side of the argument, to divide the country in two and trust that there are enough of his people in the right number of congressional districts, or electoral votes-rich states, to keep him in authority.
Trump is not the President for all Americans, but he is finally redefining the country along lines approved of by those Americans who lent him their votes in 2016.
Actually, he’s not “the President for all Americans” because a lot of ’em aren’t really Americans in the first place.