Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives to speak at a campaign rally, Oct. 13, 2016, in Cincinnati, Ohio. 
Photo by Evan Vucci/AP

Donald Trump puts his messianic message in a new light

When Donald Trump told a Florida audience yesterday that Hillary Clinton is plotting with international financiers to “plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty,” it marked a new level of crazy in the Republican presidential hopeful’s campaign. But the GOP nominee also took another step yesterday in packaging his candidacy’s increasingly messianic message.

This week, the Republican ticket unveiled an ad with an unusual message: “Donald Trump will protect you. He is the only one who can.” It wasn’t a throwaway line: Trump has said repeatedly in recent months that he “alone” can solve the nation’s problems. In May, he went so far as to declare, “I will give you everything. I will give you what you’ve been looking for for 50 years. I’m the only one.”

Yesterday, however, Trump’s savior complex took an even creepier turn:
“They knew they would throw every lie they could at me and my family and my loved ones. They knew they would stop at nothing to try to stop me. But I never knew, as bad as it would be, I never knew it would be this vile, that it would be this bad, that it would be this vicious.

“Nevertheless, I take all of these slings and arrows gladly for you. I take them for our movement so that we can have our country back.

“Our great civilization, here in America and across the civilized world has come upon a moment of reckoning.”
Later in the speech, Trump added, “In my former life I was an insider, as much as anybody else. And I knew what it’s like, and I still know what it’s like to be an insider. It’s not bad, it’s not bad. Now I’m being punished for leaving the special club and revealing to you the terrible things that are going on having to do with our country. Because I used to be part of the club, I’m the only one that can fix it.”

His followers shouldn’t trust journalists, because news organizations represent “a political special interest” that’s at “war” with Americans’ interests. His followers shouldn’t look to congressional Republican leaders, either, because they’re in on a “sinister deal.” Trump fans must also reject corporations, the finance industry, and the “global power structure,” because they’re all part of a conspiracy that puts “our civilization” at risk.

What these voters should do, apparently, is trust just one man. Trump will tell you the truth. Trump will keep you safe. Trump will solve your problems. Trump can “make possible every dream you’ve ever dreamed.”

All the while, Trump will “take all of these slings and arrows gladly” for his followers.

As we talked about the other day, this notion that Trump is somehow “the one” – a singular figure who can do what no other human can – isn’t just creepy; it’s also deeply at odds with democratic principles. We’re electing a president to lead a co-equal branch of government in a system filled with checks and balances, not a strongman who’ll rule over us.

It remains true that Trump doesn’t actually know anything about government, public policy, international affairs, and/or governmental institutions, so the notion that he can magically wield power like no one else is impossible to take seriously.

But even if the Republican candidate had some clue as to how to be president – he doesn’t, but if he did – there’s still no reason for his supporters to think of him as some kind of cult leader.