So the Washington Post ran an opinion column from Stephen King about Tuesday's election. In it, King suggests he now understands the reason that people voted for Donald Trump in 2016, but warns that given the conditions of 2020, making choices like it was 2016 is probably not a good idea. That's true, but...
It's pretty silly. It rides its central metaphor -- Trump's 2016 voters wanted to "kick over the apple cart" -- too far by saying that 2020 requires us to vote for Joe Biden to "set it upright again...but we'll all have to pick up the apples." King says he understands the 2016 Trump voters but still speaks of them as though they were children who threw a tantrum. They may very well be exactly that, but olive-branch appeals to an opponent's better nature fare poorly when the non-extended hand is still covering a snicker.
King's "Trump voter" in mind is a convenience-store clerk who surprises him back in 2016 with her preference for Trump. In another bit of silliness he gives her the pseudonym "Annie" even though he doesn't use her last name and doesn't identify where she worked at the time, and she doesn't work there anymore anyway.
King's point is that although the impulse of the 2016 voter may have been understandable, the results have been awful: Trump has done poorly at his job and has deepened and hardened the divisions that his candidacy exposed. I completely agree with the first and don't deny the second. But I think King gives far too little credit to Trump's opponents, who seem to have taken every opportunity to join him in making things worse.
But the Washington Post leaves one question glaringly open: Who cares what Stephen King thinks? Sure, he's not dumb, but his degree is a Bachelor of the Arts in English, not foreign policy or economics or political science. He probably spends a reasonable amount of time informing himself of the events of the day via news media, but he's never demonstrated any particular genius for uncovering surprising new points of view -- and he doesn't do so here. It's not that he's wrong, it's just that he doesn't offer anything new, anything that a few million Americans don't also think. None of those few million Americans had an invitation from the Post to share their wisdom with the world, only Stephen King. And why did Stephen King get that chance? Because he's sold lots of books and people know his name. In other words, WaPo readers were presented with this particular point of view for no other reason than that its holder is a celebrity.
Please correct me if I err, but thinking that celebrity somehow confers special insight, wisdom or ability to understand, comment on and handle complex modern issues -- like, say, the problem of illegal immigration or of China's power grabs on the world stage -- and that we owe the opinions and policy suggestions of the famous more deference because of their fame is one of the mistakes that got us here. I'd figure the Post might give us a little help in the course correction.