A demagogue // (from Greek δημαγωγός, a popular leader, a leader of a mob, from δῆμος, people, populace, the commons + ἀγωγός leading, leader) or rabble-rouser is a leader in a democracy who gains popularity by exploiting prejudice and ignorance among the common people, whipping up the passions of the crowd and shutting down reasoned deliberation. Demagogues overturn established customs of political conduct, or promise or threaten to do so.
Demagogues have appeared in democracies since ancient Athens. They exploit a fundamental weakness in democracy: because ultimate power is held by the people, it is possible for the people to give that power to someone who appeals to the lowest common denominator of a large segment of the population. Demagogues have usually advocated immediate, forceful action to address a national crisis while accusing moderate and thoughtful opponents of weakness or disloyalty.
History and definition of the wordEdit
|“||A demagogue, in the strict signification of the word, is a 'leader of the rabble'.||”|
|— James Fenimore Cooper, "On Demagogues"|
The word demagogue, originally meaning a leader of the common people, was first coined in ancient Greece with no negative connotation, but eventually came to mean a troublesome kind of leader who occasionally arose in Athenian democracy. Even though democracy gave power to the common people, elections still tended to favor the aristocratic class, which favored deliberation and decorum. Demagogues were a new kind of leader who emerged from the lower classes. Demagogues relentlessly advocated action, usually violent—immediately and without deliberation. Demagogues appealed directly to the emotions of the poor and uninformed, pursuing power, telling lies to stir up hysteria, exploiting crises to intensify popular support for their calls to immediate action and increased authority, and accusing moderate opponents of weakness or disloyalty to the nation. While many politicians in a democracy make occasional small sacrifices of truth, subtlety, or long-term concerns to maintain popular support, demagogues do these things relentlessly and without self-restraint.
Use and abuse of the termEdit
Throughout its history, people have often used the word demagogue carelessly, as an "attack word" to disparage any leader whom the speaker thinks manipulative, pernicious, or bigoted. While there can be no precise delineation between demagogues and non-demagogues, since democratic leaders exist on a continuum from less to more demagogic, what distinguishes a demagogue can be defined independently of whether the speaker favors or opposes a certain political leader. What distinguishes a demagogue is how he or she gains or holds democratic power: by exciting the passions of the lower classes and less-educated people in a democracy toward rash or violent action, breaking established democratic institutions such as the rule of law. James Fenimore Cooper in 1838 identified four fundamental characteristics of demagogues:
- They fashion themselves as a man or woman of the common people, opposed to the elites.
- Their politics depends on a visceral connection with the people, which greatly exceeds ordinary political popularity.
- They manipulate this connection, and the raging popularity it affords, for their own benefit and ambition.
- They threaten or outright break established rules of conduct, institutions, and even the law.
The central feature of the practice of demagoguery is persuasion by means of passion, shutting down reasoned deliberation and consideration of alternatives. Demagogues "pander to passion, prejudice, bigotry, and ignorance, rather than reason." See below for a survey of the methods of persuasion used by most demagogues throughout history.
The enduring character of demagoguesEdit
Demagogues have arisen in democracies from Athens to the present day. Though most demagogues have unique, colorful personalities, their psychological tactics have remained the same throughout history (see below). Often considered the first demagogue, Cleon of Athens is remembered mainly for the brutality of his rule and his near destruction of Athenian democracy, resulting from his "common-man" appeal to disregard the moderate customs of the aristocratic elite. Modern demagogues include Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Huey Long, Father Coughlin, and Joseph McCarthy, all of whom built mass followings the same way that Cleon did: by exciting the passions of the mob against the moderate, thoughtful customs of the aristocratic elites of their times. All, ancient and modern, meet Cooper's four criteria above: claiming to represent the common people, inciting intense passions among them, exploiting those reactions to take power, and breaking or at least threatening established rules of political conduct, though each in different ways.
Demagogues exploit a perennial weakness of democracies: the greater numbers, and hence votes, of the lower classes and less-educated people—the people most prone to be whipped up into a fury and led to catastrophic action by an orator skilled at fanning that kind of flame. Democracies are instituted to ensure freedom for all and popular control over government authority. Demagogues turn power deriving from popular support into a force that undermines the very freedoms and rule of law that democracies are made to protect. The Greek historian Polybius thought that democracies are inevitably undone by demagogues. He said that every democracy eventually decays into "a government of violence and the strong hand," leading to "tumultuous assemblies, massacres, banishments."
First, after the failed revolt by the city of Mytilene, Cleon persuaded the Athenians to slaughter not just the Mytilenean prisoners, but every man in the city, and to sell their wives and children as slaves. The Athenians rescinded the resolution the following day when they came to their senses.
Second, after Athens had completely defeated the Peloponnesian fleet in the Battle of Sphacteria and Sparta could only beg for peace on almost any terms, Cleon persuaded the Athenians to reject the peace offer.
Third, he taunted the Athenian generals over their failure to bring the war in Sphacteria to a rapid close, accusing them of cowardice, and declared that he could finish the job himself in twenty days, despite having no military knowledge. They gave him the job, expecting him to fail. Cleon shrank at being called to make good on his boast, and tried to get out of it, but he was forced to take the command. In fact, he succeeded—by getting the general Demosthenes to do it, now treating him with respect after previously slandering him behind his back. Three years later, Cleon and his Spartan counterpart Brasidas were killed at the Battle of Amphipolis, enabling a restoration of peace that lasted until the outbreak of the Second Peloponnesian War.
Modern commentators suspect that Thucydides and Aristophanes exaggerated the vileness of Cleon's real character. Both had personal conflicts with Cleon, and The Knights is a satirical, allegorical comedy that doesn't even mention Cleon by name. Cleon was a tradesman—a leather-tanner. Thucydides and Aristophanes came from the upper classes, predisposed to look down on the commercial classes. Nevertheless, their portrayals define the archetypal example of the "demagogue" or "rabble-rouser."
Alcibiades convinced the people of Athens to attempt to conquer Sicily during the Peloponnesian War, with disastrous results. He led the Athenian assembly to support making him commander by claiming victory would come easily, appealing to Athenian vanity, and appealing to action and courage over deliberation. Alcibiades's expedition could have succeeded if he was not denied command due to the political maneuvers of his rivals.
Gaius Flaminius was a Roman consul most known for being defeated by Hannibal at the Battle of Lake Trasimene during the second Punic war. Hannibal was able to make pivotal decisions during this battle because he understood his opponent. Flaminius was described as a demagogue by Polybius, in his book the Rise of the Roman Empire. "...Flaminius possessed a rare talent for the arts of demagogy..." Because Flaminius was thus ill-suited, he lost 15,000 Roman lives, his own included, in the battle.
The most famous demagogue of modern times, Adolf Hitler first attempted to overthrow the Bavarian government not with popular support but by force in a failed putsch in 1923. While in prison, Hitler chose a new strategy: to overthrow the government democratically, by cultivating a mass movement. Even before the putsch, Hitler had rewritten the Nazi party's platform to consciously target the lower classes of Germany, appealing to their resentment of wealthier classes and calling for German unity and increased central power. Hitler was delighted by the instant increase in popularity.
While Hitler was in prison, the Nazi party vote had fallen to one million, and it continued to fall after Hitler was released in 1924 and began rejuvenating the party. For the next several years, Hitler and the Nazi party were generally regarded as a laughingstock in Germany, no longer taken seriously as a threat to the country. Despite Hitler's oratorical gift for stirring up the passions of a crowd (see below), he was unable to stop the decline of the Nazi party. The prime minister of Bavaria lifted the region's ban on the party, saying, "The wild beast is checked. We can afford to loosen the chain."
In 1929, with the start of the Great Depression, Hitler's populism started to become effective. Hitler updated the Nazi party's platform to exploit the economic distress of ordinary Germans: repudiating the Versailles Treaty, promising to eliminate corruption, and pledging to provide every German with a job. In 1930, the Nazi party went from 200,000 votes to 6.4 million, making it the second-largest party in Parliament. By 1932, the Nazi party had become the largest in Parliament. In early 1933, Hitler was appointed Chancellor. He then exploited the Reichstag fire to arrest his political opponents and consolidate his control of the army. Within a few years, exploiting democratic support of the masses, Hitler took Germany from a democracy to a total dictatorship.
Joseph McCarthy was a U.S. Senator from the state of Wisconsin from 1947 to 1957. Though a poor orator, McCarthy rose to national prominence during the early 1950s by proclaiming that high places in the United States federal government and military were "infested" with communists, contributing to the second "Red Scare". Ultimately his inability to provide proof for his claims, as well as his public attacks on the United States Army, led to the Army–McCarthy hearings in 1954, which in turn led to his censure by the Senate and fall from popularity.
Below are described a number of methods by which demagogues have manipulated and incited crowds throughout history. No one demagogue uses them all, and no two demagogues use exactly the same methods to gain popularity and loyalty. Even ordinary politicians use some of these techniques from time to time; a politician who failed to stir emotions at all would have little hope of being elected. What these techniques have in common, and what distinguishes demagogues' use of them, is their consistent use to shut down reasoned deliberation by stirring up overwhelming passion.
Sometimes, a statesman, the kind of politician genuinely concerned with good policy, may need to resort to demagogic tactics in order to thwart a real demagogue—to "fight fire with fire". A real demagogue uses these tactics without restraint; a statesman, only to avert greater harm to the nation. In contrast to a demagogue, a statesman's ordinary rhetoric seeks "to calm rather than excite, to conciliate rather than divide, and to instruct rather than flatter."
The most fundamental demagogic technique is scapegoating: blaming the in-group's troubles on an out-group, usually of a different ethnicity, religion, or social class. For example, McCarthy claimed that all of the problems of the U.S. resulted from "communist subversion." Denis Kearney blamed all the problems of laborers in California on Chinese immigrants. Hitler blamed Jews for Germany's defeat in World War I as well as the economic troubles that came afterward. This was central to his appeal: many people said that the only reason they liked Hitler was because he was against the Jews. Fixing blame on the Jews gave Hitler a way to intensify nationalism and unity.
The claims made about the scapegoated class are mostly the same regardless of the demagogue and regardless of the scapegoated class or the nature of the crisis that the demagogue is exploiting. "We" are the "true" Americans/Germans/Christians/etc., and "they", the Jews/bankers/communists/capitalists/unions/foreigners/elites/etc., have supposedly cheated "us" plain folk and are living in decadent luxury off riches that rightfully belong to "us". "They" are plotting to take over, are now rapidly taking power, or are already secretly running the country. "They" are subhuman, sexual perverts who will seduce or rape our daughters, and if "we" don't expel or exterminate "them" right away, doom is just around the corner.
Many demagogues have risen to power by evoking fear in their audiences, to stir them to action and prevent deliberation. Fear of rape, for example, is easily evoked. "Pitchfork Ben" Tillman's rhetoric was most vivid when he was describing imaginary scenes in which white women were raped by black men lurking by the side of the road. He depicted black men as having an innate "character weakness" consisting of a fondness for raping white women. Tillman was elected governor of South Carolina in 1890, and elected senator repeatedly from 1895–1918.
While any politician needs to point out dangers to the people and criticize opponents' policies, demagogues choose their words for their effect on their audience's emotions, usually without regard for factual truth or the real severity of the danger. Some demagogues are opportunistic, monitoring the people and saying whatever currently will generate the most "heat". Other demagogues may themselves be so ignorant or prejudiced that they sincerely believe the falsehoods they tell.
When one lie doesn't work, the demagogue quickly moves on to more lies. Joe McCarthy first claimed to have "here in my hand" a list of 205 members of the Communist Party working in the State Department. Soon this became 57 "card-carrying Communists". When pressed to provide their names, McCarthy then said that while the records are not available to him, he knew "absolutely" that "approximately" 300 Communists were certified to the Secretary of State for discharge but only "approximately" 80 were actually discharged. When called on that bluff, he said that he had a list of 81, which he would use in the following weeks. McCarthy never turned up even one Communist in the State Department.
Emotional oratory and personal charismaEdit
Many demagogues have demonstrated remarkable skill at moving audiences to great emotional depths and heights during a speech. Sometimes this is due to exceptional verbal eloquence, sometimes personal charisma, sometimes both. Hitler demonstrated both. His eyes had a hypnotic effect on many people, seeming to immobilize and overwhelm whoever he glared at. Hitler usually began his speeches by speaking slowly, in a low, resonant voice, telling of his life in poverty after serving in World War I, suffering in the chaos and humiliation of postwar Germany, resolving to reawaken the Fatherland. Gradually he would escalate the tone and tempo of his speech, ending in a climax in which he shrieked his hatred of Bolsheviks, Jews, Czechs, Poles, or whatever group he currently perceived as standing in his way—mocking them, ridiculing them, insulting them, threatening them with destruction. Normally reasonable people became caught up in the peculiar rapport that Hitler established with his audience, believing even the most obvious lies and nonsense while under his spell. Hitler was not born with these vocal and oratorical skills; he acquired them through long and deliberate practice.
A more ordinary silver-tongued demagogue was the Negro-baiter James Kimble Vardaman (Governor of Mississippi 1904–1908, Senator 1913–1919), admired even by his opponents for his oratorical gifts and colorful language. An example, responding to Theodore Roosevelt's having invited black people to a reception at the White House: "Let Teddy take coons to the White House. I should not care if the walls of the ancient edifice should become so saturated with the effluvia from the rancid carcasses that a Chinch bug would have to crawl upon the dome to avoid asphyxiation." Vardaman's speeches tended to have little content; he spoke in a ceremonial style even in deliberative settings. His speeches served mostly as a vehicle for his personal magnetism, charming voice, and graceful delivery.
The demagogues' charisma and emotional oratory many times enabled them to win elections despite opposition from the press. The news media informs, and often the information is damaging to demagogues. Demagogic oratory distracts, entertains, and enthralls, steering followers' attention away from the demagogue's usual history of lies, abuses of power, and broken promises. The advent of radio enabled many 20th-century demagogues' skill with the spoken word to drown out the written word of newspapers.
Accusing opponents of weakness and disloyaltyEdit
Cleon, like many demagogues who came after him, constantly advocated brutality in order to demonstrate strength, and argued that compassion was a sign of weakness that would only be exploited by enemies. "It is a general rule of human nature that people despise those who treat them well and look up to those who make no concessions." At the Mytilenian Debate over whether to recall the ships he had sent the previous day to slaughter and enslave the entire population of Mytilene, he opposed the very idea of debate, characterizing it as an idle, weak, intellectual pleasure: "To feel pity, to be carried away by the pleasure of hearing a clever argument, to listen to the claims of decency are three things that are entirely against the interests of an imperial power."
Distracting from his lack of evidence for his claims, Joe McCarthy persistently insinuated that anyone who opposed him was a communist sympathizer. G.M. Gilbert summarized this rhetoric as "I'm agin' Communism; you're agin' me; therefore you must be a communist."
Promising the impossibleEdit
Another fundamental demagogic technique is making promises only for their emotional effect on audiences, without regard for how they might be accomplished or without intending to honor them once in office. Demagogues express these empty promises simply and theatrically but remain extremely hazy about how they will achieve them because usually they are impossible. For example, Huey Long promised that if he were elected president, every family would have a home, an automobile, a radio, and $2,000 yearly. He was vague about how he would make that happen, but people still joined his Share-the-Wealth clubs. Another kind of empty demagogic promise is to make everyone wealthy or "solve all the problems". The Polish demagogue Stanisław Tymiński, running as an unknown "maverick" on the basis of his prior success as a businessman in Canada, promised "immediate prosperity"—exploiting the economic difficulties of laborers, especially miners and steelworkers. Tymiński forced a runoff in the 1990 presidential election, nearly defeating Lech Wałęsa.
Violence and physical intimidationEdit
Demagogues have often encouraged their supporters to violently intimidate opponents, both to solidify loyalty among their supporters and to discourage or physically prevent people from speaking out or voting against them. "Pitchfork Ben" Tillman was repeatedly re-elected to the U.S. Senate largely through violence and intimidation. He spoke in support of lynch mobs, and he disenfranchised most black voters with the South Carolina constitution of 1895. Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf that physical intimidation was an effective way to move the masses. Hitler intentionally provoked hecklers at his rallies so that his supporters would become enraged by their remarks and assault them.
Personal insults and ridiculeEdit
Many demagogues have found that ridiculing or insulting opponents is a simple way to shut down reasoned deliberation of competing ideas, especially with an unsophisticated audience. "Pitchfork Ben" Tillman, for example, was a master of the personal insult. He got his nickname from a speech in which he called President Grover Cleveland "an old bag of beef" and resolved to bring a pitchfork to Washington to "poke him in his old fat ribs." James Kimble Vardaman consistently referred to President Theodore Roosevelt as a "coon-flavored miscegenationist" and once posted an ad in a newspaper for "sixteen big, fat, mellow, rancid coons" to sleep with Roosevelt during a trip to Mississippi.
A common demagogic technique is to pin an insulting epithet on an opponent, by saying it repeatedly, in speech after speech, when saying the opponent's name or in place of it. For example, James Curley referred to Henry Cabot Lodge Jr., his Republican opponent for Senator, as "Little Boy Blue". William Hale Thompson called Anton Cermak, his opponent for mayor of Chicago, "Tony Baloney". Huey Long called Joseph E. Ransdell, his elderly opponent for Senator, "Old Feather Duster". Joe McCarthy liked to call Secretary of State Dean Acheson "The Red Dean of Fashion". The use of epithets and other humorous invective diverts followers' attention from soberly considering how to address the important public issues of the time, scoring easy laughs instead.
Vulgarity and outrageous behaviorEdit
Legislative bodies usually have sober standards of decorum that are intended to quiet passions and favor reasoned deliberation. Many demagogues violate standards of decorum outrageously, to show clearly that they are thumbing their noses at the established order and the genteel ways of the upper class, or simply because they enjoy the attention that it brings. The common people might find the demagogue disgusting, but the demagogue can use the upper class’s contempt for him to show that he won’t be shamed or intimidated by the powerful.
For example, Huey Long famously wore pajamas to highly dignified occasions where others were dressed at the height of formality. He once stood "bukk nekkid" at his hotel suite when laying down the law to a meeting of political fuglemen. Long was "intensely and solely interested in himself. He had to dominate every scene he was in and every person around him. He craved attention and would go to almost any length to get it. He knew that an audacious action, although it was harsh and even barbarous, could shock people into a state where they could be manipulated." "He displayed no … restraint, proving so shameless in his pursuit of publicity, and so adept at getting press coverage, that he was soon attracting more attention from the press and the galleries than most of the rest of his colleagues combined."
Aristotle even pointed out the bad manners of Cleon more than 2,000 years ago: "[Cleon] was the first who shouted on the public platform, who used abusive language and who spoke with his cloak girt about him, while all the others used to speak in proper dress and manner."
Most demagogues have made a show of appearing to be down-to-Earth, ordinary citizens just like the people whose votes they sought. In the United States, many took folksy nicknames: William H. Murray (1869–1956) was "Alfalfa Bill"; James M. Curley (1874–1958) of Boston was "Our Jim"; Ellison D. Smith (1864–1944) was "Cotton Ed"; the husband-and-wife demagogue team of Miriam and James E. Ferguson went by "Ma and Pa"; Texas governor W. Lee O'Daniel (1890–1969) was "Pappy-Pass-the-Biscuits".
Georgia governor Eugene Talmadge (1884–1946) put a barn and a henhouse on the Executive Mansion grounds, loudly explaining that he couldn't sleep nights unless he heard the bellowing of livestock and the cackling of poultry. When in the presence of farmers, he chewed tobacco and faked a rural accent—though he himself was college-educated—railing against "frills" and "nigger-lovin' furriners". He defined "furriner" as "Anyone who attempts to impose ideas that are contrary to the established traditions of Georgia." His grammar and vocabulary became more refined when speaking before a city audience. Talmadge was famous for wearing gaudy red galluses, which he snapped for emphasis during his speeches. On his desk, he kept three books, which he loudly proclaimed to visitors were all that a governor needed: a bible, the state financial report, and a Sears–Roebuck catalog.
Huey Long displayed his common-people roots by such methods as calling himself "The Kingfish" and gulping down pot likker when visiting northern Louisiana; he once issued a press release demanding that his name be removed from the Washington Social Register. "Alfalfa Bill" made sure to remind people of his rural background by talking in the terminology of farming: "I will plow straight furrows and blast all the stumps. The common people and I can lick the whole lousy gang."
Scapegoating is one form of gross oversimplification: treating a complex problem, which requires patient reasoning and analysis, as if it results from one simple cause or can be solved by one simple cure. For example, Huey Long claimed that all of the U.S.'s economic problems could be solved just by "sharing the wealth". Hitler claimed that Germany had lost World War I only because of a "Stab in the Back".
Attacking the news mediaEdit
Since information from the press can undermine a demagogue's spell over his or her followers, modern demagogues have often attacked it intemperately, calling for violence against newspapers who opposed them, claiming that the press was secretly in the service of moneyed interests or foreign powers, or claiming that leading newspapers were simply personally out to get them. Huey Long accused the New Orleans Times–Picayune and Item of being "bought", and had his bodyguards rough up their reporters. Oklahoma governor "Alfalfa Bill" Murray (1869–1956) once called for a bomb to be dropped on the offices of the Daily Oklahoman. Joe McCarthy accused The Christian Science Monitor, the New York Post, The New York Times, the New York Herald Tribune, The Washington Post, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and countless other leading American newspapers of being "Communist smear sheets" under the control of the Kremlin.
- "demagogue, n". Oxford English Dictionary. June 2012. Retrieved June 13, 2012.
A leader of a popular faction, or of the mob; a political agitator who appeals to the passions and prejudices of the mob in order to obtain power or further his own interests; an unprincipled or factious popular orator.
- Luthin, Reinhard H. (1954). American Demagogues. Beacon Press. p. 3.
What is a demagogue? He is a politician skilled in oratory, flattery and invective; evasive in discussing vital issues; promising everything to everybody; appealing to the passions rather than the reason of the public; and arousing racial, religious, and class prejudices—a man whose lust for power without recourse to principle leads him to seek to become a master of the masses. He has for centuries practiced his profession of 'man of the people'. He is a product of a political tradition nearly as old as western civilization itself.
- Signer, Michael (2009). "Defining the Demagogue". Demagogue: The Fight to Save Democracy from Its Worst Enemies. Macmillan. pp. 32–38. ISBN 0230606245.
- Larson, Allan Louis (1964). Southern Demagogues: A Study in Charismatic Leadership, pp. 76, 79, 85. University Microfilms, Ann Arbor, Mich.
- Signer, Michael (2009). "The Cycle of Regimes". Demagogue: The Fight to Save Democracy from Its Worst Enemies. Macmillan. pp. 31–71. ISBN 0230606245.
- "On Demagogues". The American Democrat. Cooperstown: H. & E. Phinney. 1838. pp. 98–104.
- Samons, Loren J. (2004). What's Wrong with Democracy? From Athenian Practice to American Worship. University of California Press. pp. 43–44. ISBN 9780520236608.
- Ostwald, Martin (1989). From Popular Sovereignty to the Sovereignty of Law. University of California Press. p. 201. ISBN 0520067983.
- Ceaser, James W. (2011). "Demagoguery, Statesmanship, and Presidential Politics". Designing a Polity: America's Constitution in Theory and Practice. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 75–118. ISBN 1442207906.
- Gustainis, J. Justin (Spring 1990). "Demagoguery and Political Rhetoric: A Review of the Literature" (PDF). Rhetoric Society Quarterly. 20 (2): 155–61. doi:10.1080/02773949009390878.
- Signer, Michael (2009). "Cleon of Athens". Demagogue: The Fight to Save Democracy from Its Worst Enemies. Macmillan. pp. 40–51. ISBN 0230606245.
- Signer, Michael (2009). "Democracy's Own Worst Enemy". Demagogue: The Fight to Save Democracy from Its Worst Enemies. Macmillan. pp. 38–40. ISBN 0230606245.
- Michael Grant, Ancient Historians, p. 98, pp. 110–11. Barnes & Noble Publishing (1994). ISBN 1-56619-599-3
- Aristophanes, The Knights. Here is an old free version translated by William Walter Merry, Clarendon Press (1902). The translator says on p. 5:
"The picture of Cleon the demagogue has been painted for us in the comedies of Aristophanes, and in the graver history of Thucydides. On the strength of these representations, he is commonly taken as the type of the reckless mob-orator, who trades upon popular passions to advance his own interests."
- Kagan, Donald (1991). The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition. Cornell University Press. p. 185. ISBN 0801499402.
- Polybius, the Rise of the Roman Empire
- Shirer, William (1960). The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 119. ISBN 9780671728687.
He had explained the new tactics to one of his henchmen, Karl Ludecke, while still in prison: 'When I resume active work, it will be necessary to pursue a new policy. Instead of working to achieve power by armed coup, we shall have to hold our noses and enter the Reichstag against the Catholic and Marxist deputies. If outvoting them takes longer than outshooting them, at least the result will be guaranteed by their own constitution. … Sooner or later we shall have a majority—and after that, Germany.'
- Shirer, William (1960). The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 40–42. ISBN 9780671728687.
A good many paragraphs of the party program were obviously merely a demagogic appeal to the mood of the lower classes when they were in bad straits… Point 11, for example, demanded abolition of incomes unearned by work; Point 12, the nationalization of trusts… Point 18 demanded the death penalty for traitors, usurers, and profiteers.
- Signer, Michael (2009). "The Cycle Begins Again". Demagogue: The Fight to Save Democracy from Its Worst Enemies. Macmillan. pp. 143–148. ISBN 0230606245.
- Rovere, Richard, Senator Joe McCarthy, Methuen Books (1959); reprinted by the University of California Press (1996). ISBN 0-520-20472-7.
- Wicker, Tom, Shooting Star: the Brief Arc of Joe McCarthy, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2006) ISBN 0-15-101082-X
"Joe McCarthy may have been the most destructive demagogue in American history." p. 5
"McCarthy's Senate colleagues voted sixty-seven to twenty-two to censure him for his reckless accusations and fabrications." back cover
- Johnson, Haynes, The Age of Anxiety: McCarthyism to Terrorism, Houghtin Mifflin Harcourt (2006). ISBN 0-15-603039-X
"Joe McCarthy was a demagogue, but never a real leader of the people." p. 193
"McCarthy represented what Richard Hofstadter called 'the paranoid style of American politics.'" pp. 193–94
"While he never approached the importance of a Hitler or a Stalin, McCarthy resembled those demagogic dictators by also employing the techniques of the Big Lie." p. 194
- "History News Network - What Qualifies as Demagoguery?".
- Mayer, Michael (2007). The Eisenhower Years. Infobase Publishing.
Unlike most demagogues, McCarthy did not give stem-winding, highly emotional speeches. Rather, he spoke in a monotone, even as he made his most outrageous charges. The delivery lent credence to his accusations, in that they seemed to be unemotional and therefore "factual."
- Harold Barrett (1991). Rhetoric and Civility: Human Development, Narcissism, and the Good Audience. SUNY Press. p. 108. ISBN 0791404838.
- ""Have You No Sense of Decency?"". United States Senate. Retrieved 2017-01-07.
- Lomas, Charles W. (1961). "The Rhetoric of Demagoguery." Western Journal of Speech Communication, vol. 25, no. 3., p. 160.
- Ceaser, James W. (2011). "Demagoguery, Statesmanship, and Presidential Politics". Designing a Polity: America's Constitution in Theory and Practice. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 87–88. ISBN 1442207906.
- Allport, Gordon Willard. The Nature of Prejudice, 25th-anniversary edition (1979), p. 420. Basic Books.
- Allport, Gordon Willard. The Nature of Prejudice, 25th-anniversary edition (1979), p. 414. Basic Books.
- Dorgan, Howard (1981). "'Pitchfork Ben' Tillman and 'The Race Problem from a Southern Point of View'" in The Oratory of Southern Demagogues, ed. Cal M. Logue and Howard Dorgan, p. 63. Louisiana University Press.
- Logue, Cal M. and Howard Dorgan (1981) "The Demagogue" in The Oratory of Southern Demagogues, ed. Cal M. Logue and Howard Dorgan, p. 1–11. Louisiana University Press.
- Gilbert, G.M. (Summer 1955). "Dictators and Demagogues". Journal of Social Issues. 11 (3): 51–52. doi:10.1111/j.1540-4560.1955.tb00330.x.
[A demagogue's] behavior is guided more by its potential effect in beguiling public opinion than by any scrupulous regard for the truth, for basic social values, or for the integrity of the individual in his person, property, livelihood, or reputation—his assertion of patriotic and pious platitudes notwithstanding.
- Luthin, Reinhard H. (1954). American Demagogues. Beacon Press. pp. 282–82.
- Shirer, William. William Shirer's Twentieth-Century Journey: 1930–1940: The Nightmare Years, vol. 2.
- Strickland, William M. (1981). "James Kimble Vardaman," in The Oratory of Southern Demagogues, ed. Cal M. Logue and Howard Dorgan, pp. 66–82. Louisiana University Press.
- Luthin, Reinhard H. (1954). American Demagogues. Beacon Press. pp. 309–14.
- Shore, Zachary (2010). Blunder: Why Smart People Make Bad Decisions. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 16 ff. ISBN 1608192547.
- Thucydides (427 B.C.). History of the Peloponnesian War, book 6, §37ff, "The Mytilenean Debate."
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Perhaps most dangerous of all is his insinuation that anybody who is against him is a communist sympathizer—an insinuation that has done more than anything else to intimidate free expression of opinion on vital issues and on demagoguery in America.
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