To save this word, you'll need to log in. But, at the same time, the word took a negative turn, coming to suggest one who uses powers of persuasion to sway and mislead. Examples of demagogue in a Sentence Noun Like other good Whigs, they had assumed that the people, once free of English influence, would honor and elevate the country's true patriots and natural aristocracy in ways that the English Crown had not. But when in the decades following the Revolution the people seemed to succumb to the deceit and flattery of mushroom demagogues , who were the popular counterparts of courtiers, the Federalists became bewildered and bitter. Wood , Revolutionary Characters , Before the U. Goaded by talk-radio demagogues , hundreds of citizens surrounded the Statehouse in a near riot. House Republicans mostly stifled the urge to demagogue against his plan. Here's What to Know About the Arms Deal That Made Him Famous," 7 May Recent Examples on the Web: Verb With an election coming, advantage goes to those who stayed on the sidelines of the fight and now can demagogue on impossible solutions that would impose no pain and deliver free goodies. Send us feedback. Trending: Clinton: 'Demagogic Rhetoric'
Historian Reinhard Luthin defined demagogue thus: "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. 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.
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Demagogues have been a problem for democracy for 25 centuries, at least since the populist Cleon persuaded his fellow Athenians to slaughter every man in the city of Mytilene as punishment for a failed revolt. Today, as social and mass media feast on over-the-top statements, the incentives for demagoguery—and accusing others of being demagogues—are many. By the first century B. It was far from a perfect democracy, but the citizens of Rome had a real voice in their government in contrast to the kingdoms and autocratic empires elsewhere in the ancient world. But times were hard. Decades of economic downslide, threats from the Middle East, and political infighting had left the Roman people weary of the plodding nature of their government.
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