Creepy Messianic Pro-Trump Video May Come Back to Bite Him
For God so loved the world, he gave us ... Trump?
JUST WHEN YOU THINK our political moment can’t get more bizarre and disturbing than former President Donald Trump telling us he wants to be a “dictator on day one,” he ups the ante by informing us he was specially created by God to be the nation’s savior. On Friday—the twelfth day of Christmas, if you’re looking for salvational symbolism—he posted a video on Truth Social praising himself in grotesquely messianic tones.
American presidents from the earliest days of the republic have invoked God as a force in our national life. George Washington frequently spoke of “Providence” and in his first inaugural address prayed for God’s aid. Lincoln’s speeches were replete with Biblical allusions. FDR began his first inaugural address by inserting a religious line that was not in the prepared text—“This is a day of national consecration”—and a dozen years later famously led the nation in a mass prayer on D-Day. Ronald Reagan, whose frequent allusions to America as a “shining city on a hill” (the phrase he borrowed from John Winthrop), explained in his farewell address that he envisioned “a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace.”
But while previous presidents called upon God for blessings of wisdom or strength, or described the nation as called to fulfill a divine mission, Donald Trump is the first to flip that on its head and, in the video he posted to Truth Social, describe himself as the blessing sent by God to save America.
The timing is ironic: On the very day President Joe Biden delivered a campaign-framing speech noting that “Donald Trump’s campaign is about him, not America, not you,” Trump posts a video that’s all about him, literally praising himself to high heaven.
Maybe he thinks that, as the Iowa caucuses approach, this crass appeal to a sense of the divine will be helpful in holding his evangelical base. In December Trump promised Iowa voters, “When I’m back in the White House, never again will your government be used to target Christians and other religious believers.”
A survey released last week revealed that nearly two-thirds of Republican registered voters across the country consider Trump to be “a person of faith”—but his promotion of this video suggests that his strongest religious convictions are those he feels when he looks in the mirror.
VIEWERS CAN JUDGE FOR THEMSELVES how blasphemous the video is, but it’s worth saying a few words about its origin and content.
First, this Trump video is clearly inspired by a similarly cringeworthy video about Ron DeSantis (“God made a fighter” was its refrain) that the Florida governor’s wife, Casey DeSantis, tweeted out more than a year ago. That video in turn lifted freely from a charming, eloquent 1978 speech by Paul Harvey (“God made a farmer”), which Dodge used as the voiceover for a 2013 Super Bowl ad. Both the Trump and DeSantis videos take language from Harvey’s original.
Second, note that while Trump promoted this video, it apparently originated not with his campaign but with a freelance meme-making cooperative that has produced many other pro-Trump videos, including several that use deepfake techniques.
The two minutes and forty-four seconds of “God Made Trump” are edited in a style that combines the feel of 1950s newsreels with the choppy cuts of a hacker video. A few Philip Glass–like minimalist piano phrases repeat ominously in the background. The AI-generated voiceover, intended to evoke Harvey’s baritone, is given a scratchy-record quality as it tells us about Trump:
And on June 14, 1946, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker.” So God gave us Trump.
God said, “I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, fix this country, work all day, fight the Marxists, eat supper, then go to the Oval Office and stay past midnight at a meeting of the heads of state.” So God made Trump.
Later, God says to himself that he needs “‘a man who cares for the flock, a shepherd to mankind who won’t ever leave nor forsake them. I need the most diligent worker to follow the path and remain strong in faith. . . . Somebody who’s willing to . . . finish a hard week’s work by attending church on Sunday.’” And again: “So God made Trump.”
The vestigial bits of the Paul Harvey speech lead to some hilarious awkwardness in the Trump video, especially the spot where, in the original, Harvey says God needs the farmer to be strong but also gentle enough to handle young lambs and pigs. In the Trump video that line is transmogrified into Trump’s arms being “gentle enough to deliver his own grandchild.” Now there’s an image it would take an AI detached from reality to generate.
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Again and again, the message the video tries to convey is the polar opposite of the truth. Trump, for example, didn’t fix the country but rather left it in a complete COVID mess.
He was not a hard-working president; indeed his chaotic and mismanaged White House began inserting on the publicly released daily presidential schedule long blocks of “executive time”—nine hours or more—apparently to free him from people knowing that how much he loved watching television or perhaps even heading out for a “meeting” on the links.
Trump wasn’t exactly known for staying up to work until midnight, let alone in meetings with other world leaders.
And the notion that Trump regularly attended church or found solace or inspiration in religious services is bunk. As CNN reported back in 2017, “Trump is unique among modern American presidents for his seeming lack of deep religious orientation. . . . A months-long examination . . . found no evidence that Trump put down permanent roots in any of [the congregations he dropped in on throughout his life].” The most memorable image of Trump’s faux religiosity does not appear in the video: his grossly exploitative use of the Bible as a prop in a photo op after the violent Lafayette Park incident.
But don’t be too quick to think the video’s entire narrative false. Trump did eat supper. He did go to the Oval Office. And he really did, as the video shows, hug an American flag in an undignified manner, get chummy with Kim Jong-un, and rudely shove the prime minister of Montenegro.
THE “GOD MADE TRUMP” VIDEO might remind some viewers of the ancient doctrine of the divine right of kings, which Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is presiding over Trump’s trial for conspiring to overturn the 2020 election, says underlies his claim that he is immune from prosecution.
And however much he might like to coronate himself, we did fight a revolution to reject that monarchical doctrine.
Trump’s most fervent evangelical followers may believe God has chosen him to rule, but it is unlikely to play well with the undecided voters Trump would need to win the general election. A 2020 Pew survey of American adults found that, “large majorities say that God doesn’t get involved in presidential elections.”
It’s not hard to imagine a Democratic PAC running ads excerpting the video and asking Americans if they want a president who thinks he’s God’s anointed one, someone so completely full of . . . himself.
Or to imagine a parody on Saturday Night Live or a late-night show with the devil instead of God picking his representative on earth:
On June 14, 1946, Lucifer said to himself, “I need someone whom a jury will find liable for sexual assault in a department store dressing room in the mid-1990s, someone who will pay $25 million to the students he defrauded into enrolling in Trump University, and whom a court will find has submitted false property appraisals to lenders.” And so Lucifer made Trump.
And finally, Lucifer said, “I need someone who will be indicted on 91 counts of crime in four jurisdictions for his conduct during and after his presidency.” So Lucifer made Trump.
Trump’s off-the-charts narcissism might leave us muttering with distress that something like 40 percent of our fellow Americans find Trump appealing. But to succeed, he needs to win voters in the middle—and for that, delusions of divinity will not help him.