In his criminally under-appreciated novel, The Dead Zone, Stephen King tells the story of Johnny Smith, a teacher who finds himself with extraordinary powers after a horrible car accident leaves him in a coma for years. When he wakes, he discovers he can tell the future simply by touching another person. The turning point is when he shakes hands with an "outsider" political candidate named Greg Stillson and realizes that if he is elected to Congress Stillson will eventually become president and start World War III.
*Spoilers for a 45 year old book ahead*
After considerable debate, Johnny realizes he is obligated to stop this from happening, so he decides to kill Stillson at a private campaign event. When the time comes, Johnny rises from his perch in the empty balcony and takes a shot at Stillson, missing. Before he can take another shot, Johnny is shot and killed by Stillson's bodyguards. As he falls from the balcony, Johnny thinks that he's failed, however when Stillson heard the shots he grabbed a nearby child and held the child up as a human shield. The moment is caught by a photographer, who then sells the image to all the major papers and magazines. The public is horrified and Stillson's political career is over. Johnny saved the world, and didn't have to kill anyone to do it. He's the hero.
I reread The Dead Zone a few months ago, and it was a chilling experience. The similarities between Trump and Stillson are uncanny. They both are corrupt businessmen, surrounded by criminals and goons, running outsider candidacies based on racist populism. Stillson even has biker gangs that help him as a private bodyguard force.
But when I was done, I found a deep sadness settling over me. In The Dead Zone Johnny Smith wins the day because he exposes Stillson for the callous horror show that he is and the American people, being fundamentally decent do the right thing and end the man's political career. What a quaint idea. Trump has shown himself to be a corrupt, sociopathic monster over and over again, and yet he's still president. He's done the equivalent of shielding himself with a toddler nearly every week, and yet nothing has been done. Nothing will be done. He will finish out his term even though his political bungling will lead to hundreds of thousands of needless deaths. He is going to be personally responsible for 20+ 9/11s (or 62,500 Benghazis, to put it in terms Republicans might be able to understand) and yet there is no discussion of removing him from office. We are stuck with him until the end of the year at least, assuming we have elections in November. Assuming he leaves office willingly. Assuming we win the election.
In The Dead Zone, disaster is averted because the bravery of one man and the common decency of the American people. In the real world, there have been a litany of Johnny Smith's, one after another standing up and saying this is wrong only to be fired, demoted, or demolished in the press. In the real world there is simply no common decency. There is nothing Trump can do that is too brutal, too cruel, too illegal for him to be removed.
I never thought I'd live in a world that was worse than a Stephen King book, and yet here we are. The cavalry isn't coming, folks. No one is coming to save us.