President Trump's Superpower

Listening to cable news, one of the most effective capabilities of President Trump seems to be his ability to ‘galvanise his base’. No matter what he does, his ‘ability to galvanise his base’ is his ‘superpower’ in overcoming all political, normative and social adversity.



What does this 'superpower' really mean?


In 1780, Luigi Galvani, physician, physicist, biologist, and philosopher at the Bologna Academy of Science discovered the legs of dead frogs twitched when an electrical current was passed through them. This phenomenon was termed ‘galvanism’ or the ‘galvanic effect’ which Galvani’s colleague Alessandro Volta continued to experiment with, resulting in the ‘Voltaic Pile’ or the first ‘electric’ battery making a constant source of electricity possible.

The other reference to ‘galvanism’ is the protection of iron or steel from corrosion or rusting by a process of ‘galvanization’. This is accomplished by applying a protective zinc coating to iron or steel.


So, on ‘galvanise his base’, the metaphor refers to the ability to cause a momentary, short-lived ‘spasm’ or ‘twitch’, which is unable to be sustained.


I wonder if this is the attribute media, cable news, and pundits refer to when they often pronounce “…despite all this, Trump has been able to galvanise his base”.


Whenever I hear this phrase, an image of twitching frogs’ legs come to mind.


Illustration by Daniel Sinnathamby.

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