The Trump Base and Year 2

Trump’s much trumpeted first State of the Union address came and went… The event is traditionally meant to sum up achievements and challenges of the administration’s first year, setting the stage for the remaining three, all in the somber, live presence of the entire US government in all branches, with the rest of the nation tuned in through other means. But as even the BBC commentator quickly remarked, the luster of this special occasion has objectively long disappeared — and all the more so with this president who has missed few opportunities to communicate with his subjects far less formally, usually drawing (and duly receiving) attention by elliptic zingers in channels designed for frivolous social small talk. Now, sure, this speech was still promptly and critically combed over: relative emphases subtly weighed, numerous liberties with the facts meticulously inventoried, and trademark oxymorons (like “beautiful clean coal”) duly noted. But in the end, the carefully choreographed and executed event revealed little news, which frames it more as one of the occasional subliminal proofs that this chief US executive can still stick to the script, moderating Twitter with teleprompter, and ultimately, as another reassurance to his supporters among the masses (the “Base” for short here), that they can still count on him.  Which brings us then to some important broader questions as we enter Year 2 of this administration.

The main one, rather bluntly,…

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