Stephen King says he knows a thing or two about Donald Trump’s character — because he’s created characters like Donald Trump.
In a new piece for the Guardian, King reflects on the 45th president’s political rise and sees parallels to two insidious characters from his books.
The first is Greg Stillson in The Dead Zone, “a door-to-door Bible salesman with a gift of gab, a ready wit and the common touch,” King writes. Although some folks ridicule Stillson’s political ambitions, he is elected mayor of his small New England town and goes on to win a seat in the House of Representatives. When the novel’s precognitive hero shakes Stillson’s hand, King explains, “he realizes that some day Stillson is going to laugh and joke his way into the White House, where he will start world war three.”
Another villain, Big Jim Rennie from Under the Dome, is “cut from the same cloth,” King writes. A car salesman who rises to power under extraordinary circumstances, Rennie is “a crook, a cozener and a sociopath, the worst possible choice in a time of crisis, but he’s got a folksy, straight-from-the-shoulder delivery that people relate to. The fact that he’s incompetent at best and downright malevolent at worst doesn’t matter.”
Noting that The Dead Zone and Under the Dome were written years ago, King adds that “Stillson and Rennie bear enough of a resemblance to the current resident of the White House for me to flatter myself I have a country-fair understanding of how such men rise: first as a joke, then as a viable alternative to the status quo, and finally as elected officials who are headstrong, self-centered and inexperienced. Such men do not succeed to high office often, but when they do, the times are always troubled, the candidates in question charismatic, their proposed solutions to complex problems simple, straightforward and impractical.”
King, who emerged as a vocal Trump critic during the election, goes on in the piece to imagine a candid roundtable with six fictional Trump supporters about why they voted for him. Read the full exchange at the Guardian.