Eight years ago, while President Barack Hussein Obama was but a first-term senator from Illinois seeking the Democratic nomination, I was presented with a series of strange emails. The emails were an alarming mix of pseudo-Biblical prophesies of imminent doom to the United States of America, her allies, and to the entire global community should Mr. Obama become the leader of the free world. Several of these emails went so far as to name Mr. Obama as the Antichrist, the eschatological Biblical personality who would woo the masses and then usher the world into unprecedented pestilence and destruction.
In this current presidential election season, to the amazement of many, Donald J. Trump appears well on his way to securing the Republican nomination. Throughout his campaign, if he could offend someone, he has. He has appeared to mock the other-abled, labeled Mexicans as rapists, and proposed a ban on Muslims entering the country. Trump has even suggested a national registry of all Muslims eerily similar to the registration of Jews in Hitler's Germany.
Still, his political momentum has not waned. In fact, it appears to increase with each insult leveled at another group or personality. Most recently, he has invoked as a national threat the possibility of riots should he not receive the Republican nomination.
What could possibly be the appeal of a presidential candidate who is an unrepentant demagogue, racist, and islamophobe? How is it that Trump has so easily discarded Republican opponents with legitimate records of public service when he possesses none? I believe the answer is found entangled in the emailed propaganda I read eight years ago.
For every Antichrist, there must be a Christ. After the Antichrist, comes a Messiah to redeem the land and to save the people from the wrath. In the peculiar space that is the fringes of Christian fanaticism and pseudo-Biblical prophecy, Trump is as God.
Whiteness and deity have long been married in the West. From Michelangelo's 1512 fresco of a white and white-bearded God on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel to American artist Warner Sallman's 1941 Head of Christ, a deity possessing European features has been the most prevailing image of the Christian God for over 500 years. In an interview concerning his 2012 book with Paul Harvey, The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America, Edward J. Blum offered that the image of a white Christ trumped Scripture for the Ku Klux Klan and was readily employed to justify their racial violence. Blum stated, "The belief, the value, that Jesus is white provides them an image in place of text."
If Obama be conceived as the Antichrist, for those gathering in rallying mass in support of Trump's presidential bid, Trump is much more than a presidential candidate. In Trump, they see a national savior, a kinsman redeemer, one who now comes to reclaim and to restore America to its supposed former glory. Trump is a white Christ formed in the image of white supremacy, a prophet of American exceptionalism.
And like an evangelistic revival, Trump comes preaching the white gospel of supremacy. His singular sermonic topic is "Make America Great Again." This is a coded message for taking control of an increasingly diversifying nation and returning it to a time where, in Trump's own words, "You know what they used to do [to protestors] like that when they got out of line? They'd be carried out on a stretcher, folks."
As such, Dr. Ben Carson, Senator Rafael Edward "Ted" Cruz, and Senator Mario Antonio Rubio never stood a chance at securing the Republican nomination. Although they are Republicans, they are wholly other: an African American and two Latinos. While they, too, can, and have, preached the gospel of white supremacy, they can never be the white Christ.
In this peculiar presidential election season, race is as God. Trump is without any meaningful text. He has not presented any substantial policy or platforms. Honestly, he does not need to. People are not voting for Trump as much as they are voting for the image he reflects.
A multitude of political commentators did not initially take Trump's campaign seriously. They believed that Trump would find little appeal among the American electorate. However, the writing for a successful campaign had long been written on the wall. It began long before a self-avowed Christian and Ivy-league graduate of interracial parentage was castigated by birthers and islamophobes - among whom Trump was and is still counted - as a Kenyan-born Muslim. It began when this black man, our president, was called the Antichrist, the very personification of evil in the world.
This Holy Week began with Palm Sunday which commemorates Jesus Christ's triumphant entry into the city of Jerusalem. It remains to be seen if Trump will have his own triumphant entry come this November. For some, the political stage has been set for a white Messiah.
And Trump fits the bill.