Don’t Discount Demagogues


Demagogue: a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument.

How closely does Donald Trump fit that description? Any less so than Hitler, Milosevic, or Netanyahu? Hardly.

Yet we still discount him. I shudder. 

A few months back, most progressives were gleeful about Trump’s popularity, because they thought it spelled doom for Republicans in 2016. 

I put up a few Facebook posts cautioning against that sentiment.

Have things changed on that front? A little perhaps, but not much. MSNBC still is  covering him 24/7 as a means of denigrating the Republican Party.

This is crazy. Discounting a demagogue is a dangerous practice. Trump is a case in point? He’s shown us that nothing he says puts a dent in his popularity. He’s shown us that he can speak without regard to the truth.

All of the predictions about his demise are winding up false. We’ve seen how every time the so-called experts predicted an outrageous remark would sink him, they’ve been wrong. But now we’re seeing that his support is not limited to a small slice of the Republican Party.

If anything, the polls underestimate his support. Think of it as a corollary to the “Dinkins effect,” where poll respondents don’t want to admit they’re voting against a Black guy. In Trump’s case, they don’t want to say they support a racist But they do. I’ve had family members share with me that they would vote for him. They don’t take the racist stuff seriously. Just like some of Germany’s Jews in the 1920’s didn’t take Hitler’s anti-Semitism seriously.

We’re still hearing how Trump will get clobbered in the general. Surely, Democrats and Independents won’t support him, right? Wrong.

Do I think Trump, as the Republican nominee, could win next November? Actually, no. What worries me is how close he could come.

And how the table is being set for the next demagogue who comes along.

All of the ingredients for disaster are in place. An illiterate populace? Check. Extreme inequality? Check. A significant minority who feel threatened, angry and resentful? Check.

Throw in an unsuccessful “centrist” presidency for the next four years, a painful recession, and four more years of record-breaking assault weapon sales, and the explosion of 2020 will be like nothing we’ve ever experienced.

Don’t discount demagogues.


  1. What is the matter with Democrats? The Republicans are revealing themselves for who they really are in a way that will be obvious to a lot of the “there’s no difference between the parties” types. We can win the presidency and maybe a landslide to carry the Senate and even the House. Trump is no worse than the others, even the “establishment” Republican candidates. He’s leading in the polls, not through some trickery or deception. A plurality or even a majority of Republicans LIKE what he says about Mexicans, Muslims, women and other Republicans. Why are we afraid to WIN? We don’t have to pretend that he (or any Republican candidate) has any good ideas or even put the country ahead of their bigoted and crackpot ideas. The country and the world will be a much better place if Democrats control the government.

    • “The country and the world will be a much better place if Democrats control the government.”

      I seriously doubt that. IF Democrats controlled the Government we would have continued major encroachments on the Constitution, massive tax increases to pay for programs that indenture people to a lifetime of servitude to and dependence on the Government, the complete gutting of the 2nd Amendment, the “fast tracking” of 13,000,000 illegal immigrants to citizenship in order to buy their votes, and too many other disasters for our Nation to keep listing here. No, the Country and the World would NOT be a much better place if Democrats controled the government.

  2. I am one of those who expected that Trump’s penchant for the outrageous would have knocked him out of the race by now. I am very disconcerted that he seems unvulnerable to any criticism or condemnation he so rightly deserves. What bothers me even more is the support he receives from a mysterious and large percentage of voters who secretly support him but are embarrassed to say so.

    I don’t know which would be worse: A Hillary Presidency or a Trump Presidency. Either one will be an embarassment to the Nation. I agree with you, Bob, that if Trump is not elected, he paves the way for a more erudite and acceptable demagogue who might be elected at a later date. Trump seems to be legitimizing the extremist that seems to hide in a significant percentage of us. Someone who is smoother at delivering the same message will definitely tap into that passion and have a good chance of becoming President.

    Trump may prove to be a watershed event for this Nation. It certainly seems that extremism is on display and being taken seriously. I am worried for my Country.

  3. It is a facinating phenom to say the least. I have found amongst many of my co-workers, friends, and family an incredible amount of support for him. Initially I was in the camp of Trump trending then tanking, but I am seriously concerned about what is to come. Even my father who grew up a hippie and has been mostly a centrist his whole life is now sold on this guy, which completely blows me away.

    I wonder, however, how much of this is also the Clinton effect. I have found amongst those I know on the right that there is a genuine fear and anger towards the prospect of her winning the election. It is as strong as any I have seen during the Obama administration. This will be a facinating election year for sure.

  4. it isn’t demagogues who are planning to deport central american children. what a christmas present!

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