On Trumpism: Donald Trump as a God’s “Chosen” Political Messiah and Savior

Former American president Donald Trump positioned himself as the savior of America. Millions of Americans responded enthusiastically in a way that consolidated for Trump a messianic status. 

According to scholar Mimi Yang, “Manipulating Americans’ patriotism and singling out the setbacks of globalization, the rhetoric of “America First” and “Make America Great Again” indeed sounds redeeming and elevates Trump to a messianic figure to save and deliver America” (1). A messianic tone is detectable in Trump’s catchy remark that he “will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created. I tell you that. I’ll bring back our jobs from China, from Mexico, from Japan, from so many places. I’ll bring back our jobs, and I’ll bring back our money” (2).

Strategically capitalizing on widespread fear allowed Trump to demonstrate to his supporters that he alone could fix and overcome all the obstacles that stood in the way of the “American Dream” (3). As Trump stated: “Sadly, the American dream is dead. But if I get elected president, I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before”.

Successfully projecting confidence onto the political and world stage, Trump proved to his followers that nothing would stop him. He refused to be bound by rules when it came to achieving what he desired. In fact, so convinced that his followers would support him no matter what, Trump remarked in January 2016 that he “could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” This is a bold claim and perhaps Trump was correct that he would lose no votes should he have performed such an action, especially none among those who view him as God or some representative thereof,

“Glorious news, everyone! Donald Trump is God! Everything makes sense now, and the final purpose of all things is at last clear. Donald Trump on Wednesday proudly quoted a messenger who said he was ‘the second coming of God,’ and he described himself as ‘the chosen one,’ looking up at the sky. As I said, wonderful, good, normal news!” (4).

In an interview with reporters on the lawn of the White House, Trump referred to himself as “the chosen one”, which is a phrase that many Christian evangelicals have often used to describe Trump as a vessel that God has chosen to undertake God’s perfect plan (5). 

Right-wing populists present themselves as the “true representatives of the people,” while previous politicians and their opposition are lampooned for being untrustworthy and failing to represent the people and the country. In this context, populist politicians emerge and embody “a ‘saviour’… a (more or less) charismatic leader…’” (6). Trump’s announcement speech was titled “Our Country Needs a Truly Great Leader”. In the speech, Trump presented himself as a great leader; Antonio Reyes explains,

“This truly great leader would confront issues by himself like a true savior in his own terms, not as a politician or diplomatic but with hostility in a “Trumpian” way, as a Super hero ready to solve by himself all the problems, nationally and internationally. The construction of a truly great leader goes from being right about future prediction: “And I’m the one that made all of the right predictions about Iraq” to being “the greatest jobs president God ever created” (7).

The main argument of Trump’s candidacy and message was: “I will make America great again because I am great”. As the greatest creation of God (job-wise), Trump would revive the American dream and make it bigger, better, and stronger (8). Scholar Ruth Wodak’s research suggests that in right-wing populist discourses and political parties “We encounter new and self-defined saviors of ‘the people’ dominating the political stage, presenting themselves as authentic and trustworthy” (9). Trump has presented himself frequently as such and his followers have responded fervently,

“The roar came when Trump read his press statement aloud. It was a long, fullbodied roar — hands clapping, fists stabbing the air. The roar you give when things that you and your family and your friends have long believed are suddenly utterable on what is arguably the greatest stage on earth: the American presidential election. It was a roar of relief: These were no longer notions that had to be muttered under your breath. Trump wasn’t just “saying what he means” … He, the freest of men, was saying what they meant” (10).

According to Reyes, “Through the cult to his personality, Trump has self-proclaimed his persona as able to save America, the American dream and American jobs. The way he deals with issues is not much different; he does not make alliances or address threats with a team of experts. As a hero, he stands alone against the issues and obstacles” (11).

The messianic dimension to Trump’s rhetoric and self-perception as “the chosen one” will likely resonate with many in his Christian base (12). Preachers and their organizations have given spiritual legitimacy to Trump and many of these pastors, priests, and politicians have been at war with political correctness. Scholar and historian John Fea says that “there is embedded within that phrase this idea that God chooses certain people — and evangelicals will believe this — that God chooses certain people for particular moments in time to serve his purposes” (13).

The televangelist and prosperity preacher Paula White was Trump’s spiritual advisor during his presidency and taught that if one was against Trump or failed to render proper support, then that individual was also against God (14). White also famously dedicated the White House as “holy ground sanctified by the superior blood of Jesus” and claimed that Trump had been “raised up by God because God says that He raises up and places all people in places of authority. It is God that raises up a king, it is God that sets one down and so when you fight against the plan of God, you’re fighting against the hand of God” (15). Multiple high-profile evangelical and charismatic leaders claimed that God intervened in 2016 to ensure the election of Trump.

A film called The Trump Prophecy was produced in 2018 with the help of faculty and students at Liberty University and referred to how Mark Taylor, a former firefighter, claimed he received a spiritual message in 2011 that declared “The Spirit of God says I’ve chosen this man, Donald Trump, for such a time as this” (16). Similarly, Lance Wallnau, a self-proclaimed prophet who appears in the film, once declared Trump “God’s Chaos Candidate”, predicted he would become president and claimed God told him that “Donald Trump is a wrecking ball to the spirit of political correctness.”

References

1. Yang, Mimi. 2018. “Trumpism: a disfigured Americanism.” Palgrave Communications 4:1-13. p. 6. 

2. Reuters. 2015. “‘I will be the greatest jobs president that God has ever created’: Trump”. Available.

3. Kagan, Robert. 2016. “This is how fascism comes to America.” Available; Reyes. Antonio. 2020. “I, Trump: The cult of personality, anti-intellectualism and the Post-Truth era”. Journal of Language and Politics 19:6:869-893. p. 887.

4. Petri, Alexandra. 2019. “Oh, good – Donald Trump says he’s God. Now everything makes sense.” Available.

5. McLaren, Peter., and Jandrić, Petar. 2019. “The Fellowship of the Crooked Cross: Trump’s Evangelical Hounds of Hell”. Postdigital Science and Education 2(1):302-328. p. 303.

6. Wodak, Ruth. 2017. “The “Establishment”, the “Élites”, and the “People”: Who’s who?” Journal of Language and Politics 16(4):1-12. p. 4. 

7. Reyes. Antonio. 2020. Ibid. p. 882.

8. Reyes. Antonio. 2020. Ibid. p. 883.

9. Wodak, Ruth. 2017. Ibid. p. 1.

10. Giridharadas, Anand. 2015. “Trumpism After Trump”. Available.

11. Reyes. Antonio. 2020. Ibid. p. 883.

12. Easley, Jason. 2019. “Trump Proclaims Himself The Chosen One In Front Of White House Reporters”. Available.

13. McFarlan Miller, Emily., Jenkins, Jack., and Shimron, Yonat. 2019. “Explainer: Trump and the politics of the Messiah.” Available.

14. Jenkins, Jack. 2017. “Trump’s ‘God whisperer’ says resisting him is an affront to God A stunning expression of Christian nationalism.” Available

15. Winston, Kimberly. 2017. “Trump spiritual adviser Paula White says he is ‘raised up by God’”. Available.

16. Rabey, Steve. 2018. “New film highlights belief that Trump’s election was God’s plan.” Available.

One comment

  1. And isn’t it always the same? The most narcissistic, sociopathic, incompetent is going to tell us all he’s god, or god’s emissary, or sent by god! Trump couldn’t run a CASINO! He literally put himself out of business cannabalizing his OWN businesses by buying his competition! I know Cub Scout packs that could run a casino profitably. Look at his run of businesses that have gone under; dozens and dozens of businesses, all with his name on them and all defunct.

    Of course Christians – already some of the most deluded people on Earth – signed right up for Mr. Messiah!

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