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A demagogue or rabble-rouser is a political leader in a democracy who appeals to the emotions, fears, prejudices, and ignorance of people in order to gain power and promote a political or personal agenda.


  • Demosthenes: A demagogue must be neither an educated nor an honest man; he has to be an ignoramus and a rogue.
  • The peculiar office of a demagogue is to advance his own interests, by affecting a deep devotion to the interests of the people. Sometimes the object is to indulge malignancy, unprincipled and selfish men submitting but to two governing motives, that of doing good to themselves, and that of doing harm to others. The true theatre of a demagogue is a democracy, for the body of the community possessing the power, the master he pretends to serve is best able to reward his efforts. As it is all important to distinguish between those who labor in behalf of the people on the general account, and those who labor in behalf of the people on their own account, some of the rules by which each may be known shall be pointed out.
    The motive of the demagogue may usually be detected in his conduct. The man who is constantly telling the people that they are unerring in judgment, and that they have all power, is a demagogue. Bodies of men being composed of individuals, can no more be raised above the commission of error, than individuals themselves, and, in many situations, they are more likely to err, from self-excitement and the division of responsibility. The power of the people is limited by the fundamental laws, or the constitution, the rights and opinions of the minority, in all but those cases in which a decision becomes indispensable, being just as sacred as the rights and opinions of the majority; else would a democracy be, indeed, what its enemies term it, the worst species of tyranny. In this instance, the people are flattered, in order to be led; as in kingdoms, the prince is blinded to his own defects, in order to extract favor from him.
  • Unfortunately, the opinion has gone forth that no politician dares to be the advocate of peace when the question of war is mooted. That will be an evil hour — the sand of our republic will be nearly run — when it shall be in the power of any demagogue, or fanatic, to raise a war-clamor, and control the legislation of the country. The evils of war must fall upon the people, and with them the war-feeling should originate. We, their representatives, are but a mirror to reflect the light, and never should become a torch to fire the pile.
  • God give us men. The time demands
    Strong minds, great hearts, true faith, and willing hands;
    Men whom the lust of office does not kill;
    Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy;
    Men who possess opinions and a will;
    Men who have honor; men who will not lie;
    Men who can stand before a demagogue
    And dam his treacherous flatteries without winking;
    Tall men, sun-browned, who live above the fog
    In public duty and in private thinking.
  • A demagogue is a person with whom we disagree as to which gang should mismanage the country.

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