Demagoguery and Democracy
by Patricia Roberts-Miller
Demagoguery and Democracy is a brief, incisive guide to what demagogues (those who gain power by exploiting prejudice and eschewing rational argument) say and do to gain and hold power, and what citizens can do to restore democracy.
As author and longtime rhetoric professor Patricia Roberts-Miller shows, demagogues might seem volatile and spontaneous, but – from the time of ancient Greece to the age of our demagogue-in-chief, Donald Trump – they actually follow a rather recognizable pattern of irrationality. They appeal to fear but claim courage. They pay lip service to authenticity but embrace obfuscation. They resist concrete policy debate because they prefer to divide and polarize until discussion is nothing more than identity politics. The list goes on.
The key to resisting demagogues is to know their playbook – to recognize demagoguery when you see it and to know what it leads to – and to learn the ways an engaged citizenry can hasten a demagogue’s fall.