Demagogue: The Fight to Save Democracy from Its Worst Enemies

Michael Signer, Author . Palgrave MacMillan $26.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-230-60624-1

Signer, senior policy adviser at the Center for American Progress, delivers hope, confidence and a vision for diplomacy amid a discussion of why the United States has eluded the grip of the demagogue via its collective “constitutional conscience.” While the U.S. has created opportunities for demagogues abroad, it has consistently marginalized and suffocated demagogues at home, from Huey Long to George W. Bush, not by definition a demagogue, but whose attempts to trump the Constitution met with “vigilance against... [his] bullying.” According to the author, these charismatic leaders typically emerge during times of national crises; their identification with the common people elicits deep emotional responses—yet societies can be immune if the rule of law supersedes the power of the individual charged with enforcing it. The book signals the need for a new direction in foreign policy, revealing how the U.S. frequently gives demagogues just “what they seek... an easily hated enemy for them to agitate the masses against.” “The story of America's struggle with demagogues,” Signer writes, “is the story of America herself.” (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 12/01/2008
Release date: 02/01/2009
Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-230-61856-5
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