A demagogue /ˈdɛməɡɒɡ/ (from French “demagogue”, derived in turn from the Greek “demos” = people/folk and the verb “ago” = carry/manipulate thus “people’s manipulator”) or rabble-rouser is a political leader in a democracy who appeals to the emotions, fears, prejudices, and ignorance of the lower socioeconomic classes in order to gain power and promote political motives. Demagogues usually oppose deliberation and advocate immediate, violent action to address a national crisis; they accuse moderate and thoughtful opponents of weakness. Demagogues have appeared in democracies since ancient Athens. They exploit a fundamental weakness in democracy: because ultimate power is held by the people, nothing stops the people from giving that power to someone who appeals to the lowest common denominator of a large segment of the population.
Following one of Donald Trump’s latest examples of blatant lying — through a sixfold exaggeration of the likelihood that a white person gets murdered by a black person — Daniel W. Drezner writes: Now we’re at the point in this campaign when Trump’s defense for this — and those of his supporters — will be predictable. Trump was just RTing someone else’s lie, so it’s not really his fault. Trump’s MO on this ever since he’s become a candidate has been a simple five-step plan:
- Say/tweet/retweet outrageous thing;
- Dominate the next news cycle;
- Bully the media that focus on the outrageous statement;
- Backtrack/claim misinterpretation;
- Sustain polling advantage.
Michael Tesler writes: Political commentators have asserted for months that Donald Trump’s dominance of the Republican presidential field is fueled by his anti-immigrant rhetoric. As Thomas Edsall put it:
Donald Trump’s success is no surprise. The public and the press have focused on his defiant rejection of mannerly rhetoric, his putting into words of what others think privately. But the more important truth is that a half-century of Republican policies on race and immigration have made the party the home of an often angry and resentful white constituency — a constituency that is now politically mobilized in the face of demographic upheaval.
This is a very plausible hypothesis, but one with little comprehensive evidence to date. Now, thanks to a collection of survey data from YouGov, we can show how, and how much, voters’ concern about immigration has helped Trump. [Continue reading…]