President Trump’s Mass Movement

President Trump is building a mass movement – or a cult of personality – based on the alienation that millions of Americans feel toward the economic/political system, as Lawrence Davidson describes.

By Lawrence Davidson

In the Sept. 10 issue of the New York Times, there are two opinion pieces that have to do with Donald Trump and his supporters. One is entitled “The Trump Fever Never Breaks” and the other is “President Trump’s War on Science.” As we will see, the two pieces actually address different aspects of a single evolving phenomenon. However, we will examine each in turn and tie them together as we go.

President Trump speaking at a United Nations meeting on how to reform the organization on Sept. 18, 2017. (Screenshot from Whitehouse.gov)

The piece on Trump fever was written by Katy Tur, a correspondent and anchor for NBC. She covered Trump for “500 days” running up to his election and notes that “his supporters were tired of everything except him. And that is still true.” The sense she got, and obviously still has, is that Trump’s base will never abandon their man no matter how much he lies or fails to deliver on his promises. Even occasional contradictory behavior on his part is not a fatal problem – for instance, Trump’s recent double-dealing with the Democrats over immigration. If Tur is right, Trump’s core supporters will just rationalize it away.

We can estimate how many of these core supporters there might be. As of early September, Trump’s approval rating was 37 percent of the voting public. There are about 200 million Americans who are registered to vote, but on a good day just half – often less – actually show up at the polls. For the sake of argument, lets say the 37 percent is of the 100 million who may actually vote. That puts Trump’s base, the ones Tur is writing about, at roughly 37 million. That is a pretty big number of folks who are so enamored of Donald Trump that, to use his own words, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue [in New York City] and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.”

Is that really the case? Can that many people collectively suspend rational…

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