Essay Comparing Trump and Greg Stillson

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New Member
Jun 19, 2017
I wrote this for an English course around 6 months ago. Never thought of sharing it before but this looks like the best place. Enjoy!

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, and as time moves forward the poignancy of that statement is increasingly hard to ignore. When best-selling author Stephen King wrote his 1979 thriller novel, The Dead Zone, I bet he never foretold his antagonist, Gregory Stillson, would become fiction given flesh nearly forty years later. When Donald Trump announced his presidency in 2015 I had just finished the novel a few months prior, and as he became more and more popular and the chance of him becoming ‘leader of the free world’ became progressively possible, it dawned on me how many similarities they shared. While the two have some differences, as Stillson is not portrayed as a sexist bigot who was born into money, they do share many similarities in their political careers which I would like to explore.

Some similarities that should be noted, but are ultimately unrelated to the political rise of those discussed are as follows: In the novel, Greg Stillson is described as being a big man; and at 6’3, Trump is as well. In 1971, Trump was given power of his family’s real estate and construction firm; Stillson achieves ownership of his first real estate and insurance firm in the same year. Both have had an array of random business endeavours, as before becoming President, Trump was a reality television host, radio host, and has used his name to sell products from cologne to bottled water; Stillson is described as having many odd jobs over the years including being a travelling bible salesman, house painter, and even tried his hand at being an actor.

From the beginning of their political rising both men fit the definition of a demagogue by rousing the public with grandiose, yet devastating promises. Throughout Trump’s campaign for presidency, he pandered to racist, alt-right America by announcing he’s going to build a wall across the Mexican border(which Mexico would pay for), use a ‘deportation force’ to remove 11 million immigrants from the country, and defund Planned Parenthood. Sadly, this is now all becoming a reality. In The Dead Zone, Republican candidate Greg Stillson sings a similar tune. At his political rallies he tells his followers his first order of business is to, “THROW THE BUMS OUT!!!” Another order of business, “We’re going to send all the pollution right into outer space!” While ridiculous and unrealistic, he plays the crowd right into his hand. The most striking juxtaposition in this regard, Stillson creates a committee named America Now, which is parallel to Trump’s pledge of America First.

Trump’s political rallies for the 2016 election were undoubtedly hostile and violent towards those who opposed him, with even Trump himself enticing his supporters to violence by saying, “Knock the crap out of them, I'll pay the legal fees.” In The Dead Zone, Stillson hires ex-motorcycle outlaws as bodyguards and security at his rallies to ‘take care of’anyone who speaks out against him or causes a disturbance. These outlaws are also known white nationalists, whom in reality Trump is known to have ties with.

The most frightening aspect of all this is that in The Dead Zone the hero, Johnny Smith, who is able to tell a person's future by touching them, shakes Stillson’s hand and sees a future of him becoming President, which leads to a nuclear apocalypse. Trump’s stance on the nuclear arms race? “Let it be an arms race.” This is a far contrast from JFK’s 1961 speech on nuclear arms where he states:

"Today, every inhabitant of this planet must contemplate the day when this planet may no longer be habitable. Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident or miscalculation or by madness. The weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us.”

This has never been so true as it is today; as the fate of the Earth lingers in Trump’s corrupt fingers, we may yet see Johnny’s vision in Stillson come to life through Trump.

Through the comparisons discussed, I would like to close with a part from the novel that is apropos in describing both Greg Stillson, Donald Trump, and any other demagogue with hidden agendas and a lust for power. Johnny is speaking with a Vietnamese gardener about Greg Stillson, the gardener tells him of a game they play in his home country called The Laughing Tiger which he describes:

“One child is dressing up as the tiger, you see. He puts on a skin. And the other children tries to catch him as he runs and dances. The child in the skin laughs, but he is also growling and biting, because that is the game.”

Truth is stranger than fiction, and through King’s depiction of a political affliction he made a prediction of our present description.


The idiot is IN
Jun 15, 2007
Cambridge, Ohio


Well-Known Member
Jun 2, 2011
The Caribbean
Welcome .Great 1st post. The trouble with a first great post is, readers will want an even greater post the next time. Consider then for your next post the following. Write a minor essay titled, "D. Trump: Is he the Antichrist, and if so, what can we do about it?"

Depending on your answer, you might get:
1. A signed 1st ed. copy of The Dead Zone
2. An all-expenses paid trip to Bangor to meet with S. K.
3. A date with Megan Fox (if you choose not to go, I'll go in your stead)
4. Wig extensions The Rock used in The Scorpion King
5. Nothing

Good luck and thanks for such an outstanding post.
welcome2 0-2.jpg
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