As if we needed more proof that Trump is a complete nutjob, he goes and calls himself the chosen one. No, really. Here’s the quote: “This is a trade war that should have taken place years ago … somebody had to do it. I am the Chosen One.”
You might be inclined to point out that he said this within a very specific context – that being the trade war with China – but let’s be real for a moment. Do you honestly think that Trump, with his ego, doesn’t think on some level that he’s the chosen one, period? For the sake of argument, let’s say he really doesn’t. Why on earth would he say it here? Any rational person would have the tact to say something less hyperbolic. Of course, Trump isn’t rational or tactful, so there goes that. I hate to say it, but within this quote, there’s something much deeper and darker.
What this quote ultimately is, is a smoke grenade of rhetoric. That is to say, Trump uses his language to shield, albeit deliberately conspicuously, his true intentions. As with all demagogues of the dictatorial persuasion, dog-whistling extremists and co-opting their rhetoric is key to shoring up a passionate and dangerous base. I’m not talking about “the base,” i.e. most Trump voters, I’m talking about ideological extremists who see Trump as an actual messianic figure in some capacity. Acknowledging that he’s “the Chosen One,” in the context of the Chinese trade war is, strictly speaking, not his point. These words will be extracted from the original context in which he uttered them, for their intended meaning for the more nefarious base.
Trump’s goal to, in Steve Banon’s words, “dismantle the administrative state,” has been an ongoing and unfortunately successful endeavor which has seen the dissolution of norms, executive precedent and leadership, and any policy at least somewhat geared toward benefiting the public-at-large. In doing so, Trump has, in a sense, created a vacuum for influence and disrupted the foundation of American checks and balances and its ability to ensure that no power can assert absolute dominion over the office of the executive.
This once implicit assurance is no longer so clearly implicit. A substantial number of willing and ready extremists await his next dog whistle, whatever it may be. The consequences thereof remain unsettlingly unpredictable; the societal strains of the consequences in the midst of the present rattling of the world order appear to inexorably reaffirm the Trump edifice. Lady Liberty, deny the tyranny.