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edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for Demagogue:

Here are some tasks awaiting attention:
  • Article requests :
    • Under famous demagogues:
      • Huey Long.
      • Mussolini.
      • Savonarola.
      • In Hitler section, explain how he subverted the democracy of the Weimar Republic. Explain how he gained and held popular support.
      • In McCarthy section, include "I hold in my hand…" and "Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?" excerpt
    • New section: Demagogues in power
      • Establishing one-man rule
      • Appointing unqualified lackeys to high office (loyalty over competence)
      • Shutting down or controlling news media
      • Graft and corruption
      • Election fraud and voter intimidation
      • Shutting down education
    • New methods of demagogues:
      • Spectacle and circus-like atmosphere
      • Patriotism as a tool to divide (?)
    • The appeal of demagogues
    • Psychology of demagogies
    • Benevolent demagogues
    • Attempts to prevent demagogues, such as the U.S. Founding Fathers' efforts when writing the U.S. Constitution. (Michael Signer's book covers this.)
    • Citing sources : Add sources to Cleon section.


Here are some serious, reliable sources about demagogy/demagogues. I haven't checked them all closely, but I'm listing them because they appear to be scholarly research, not name-calling by opponents. Please add more such sources to this section as you find them. They'll help other editors looking for good material to summarize. —Ben Kovitz (talk) 15:47, 13 June 2012 (UTC)

Demagogues in general[edit]

Michael Signer. Demagogue: The Fight to Save Democracy from its Worst Enemies. Palgrave Macmillan (2009).

Modern and thorough. Takes care with definition. Details famous demagogues from history. Explains demagoguery as an inherent weakness of democracy (the traditional view), and proposes an explanation of why the United States has never faced a serious threat from a national-level demagogue. Explains why Bush was not a demagogue, regardless of one's opinion of him as a leader.

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. 

Scholarly, covers history back to Athens, with emphasis on the U.S. Defines and classifies demagogues.

James Fenimore Cooper. "On Demagogues." (1838).

Careful, four-part definition of "demagogue". Documents the term's ancient origin and its extension in modern times. Still pretty authoritative.

Thoms Streissguth. Hatemongers and Demagogues. The Oliver Press, Inc. (1995).

Eight examples from history: Samuel Parris (witch-hunter), Lyman Beecher (Puritan), Thomas Watson (Populist), William Simmons (KKK), Father Coughlin, Joseph McCarthy, George Lincoln Rockwell (American Nazi), Louis Farrakhan.

Aristotle. Politics.

Ancient survey of democracy and demagogues.

Reinhard Henry Luthin. American Demagogues: Twentieth Century. P. Smith (1959).

Not freely available, but widely cited. Includes Joe McCarthy.

Polybius's Histories and people's commentaries on them: Google Books search

Something in here ought to be thorough.

Basil Montagu. "The Patriot and the Demagogue" (1837).

Not sure if we need to cite it, but certainly we should offer a link to it. It's probably got something quotable, and it mentions some demagogues who might be of interest to describe in the article.

J. Justin Gustainis. "Demagoguery and Political Rhetoric: A Review of the Literature," Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Vol. 20, No. 2 (Spring, 1990), pp. 155–161.

A survey of other sources on demagogues, especially their rhetorical techniques.

Cal M. Logue and Howard Dorgan, editors. The Oratory of Southern Demagogues (1981).

A survey of eight demagogues of the southern U.S., by a variety of authors. Includes an overview of demagogues in general.

G.M. Gilbert. "Dictators and Demagogues," Journal of Social Issues, Vol 11(3), 1955, 51-56.

General analysis of demagogues. (Unfortunately behind a paywall.)

Allan Louis Larson. Southern Demagogues: A Study in Charismatic Leadership (1964).

Might have a thorough analysis of defining characteristics of demagogues and how they target and exploit their followers.

Wilma Dykeman. "The Southern Demagogue," The Virginia Quarterly Review, 33.4 (Fall 1957): 558.

Appears to analyze why demagogues were so common in the southern U.S. in the early 20th century. (Behind a paywall.)

Allport, Gordon Willard. The Nature of Prejudice (25th-anniversary edition, 1979). Basic Books.

Includes a chapter on demagogues. Discusses the followers of demagogues as well as their motives and tactics.

Specifically about McCarthy[edit]

Robert Shogan. No Sense of Decency: The Army-McCarthy Hearings: A Demagogue Falls and Television Takes Charge of American Politics. Ivan R. Dee (2009).

Charles Joseph Pruitt. Demagogue McCarthy. University of Oregon. (1967)

William T. Walker. McCarthyism and the Red Scare: A Reference Guide. ABC-CLIO (2011)

Is another trait of the demagogue "a misguided appeal to patriotism"?[edit]

I wonder if this should be added to the list of potential attributes of the demagogue? It seems that many demagogues use an appeal to their country to gain support and divide their opposition. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:10, 10 October 2017 (UTC)


Just wondering what section of the article's body corroborates the following from the lede: "Most who were elected to high office changed their democracy into some form of dictatorship." This is something which is extremely difficult to corroborate in such a general manner, and I'm inclined to propose this statement be removed unless its author cares to clarify its meaning and its inclusion, especially considering the rest of the article does not state any such conclusion. Best, FoCuS contribs; talk to me! 17:25, 28 November 2016 (UTC)

I don't see how that sentence can be considered difficult to corroborate. The article provides sufficient examples of people who were originally elected and then became dictators. Demagoguery and dictatorship are linked; there's a paper cited in the article which makes that point in its title. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 00:43, 29 November 2016 (UTC)

The text does not currently match the cited examples in the article.

  • Cleon first turns up in sources as an opposition leader in 431 BC. He rose to power following the death of Pericles, mostly by using sycophants (informers) to tarnish the reputations of his political opponents. He managed to lead the Athenian democracy and gather power in his hands, without ever actually becoming a tyrant and holding sole rule. He did not really manage to eliminate several of his political opponents or to silence his persistent accuser Aristophanes. He was killed in battle at the Battle of Amphipolis (422 BC), a decisive Spartan victory. Surviving Athenian politicians soon abandoned his policies.
  • Alcibiades was previously known for his familial connections, and his scandalous personal life. He started rising to prominence as a war-hawk politician c. 421 BC. In 415 BC, Alcibiades managed to convince the Athenians to undertake the Sicilian Expedition against Syracuse. He was offered the position of strategos (general) in the campaign. However, he had to share the office with his main rival Nicias (a dove) and with fellow war-hawk Lamachus. Before leaving for the campaign Alcibiades was accused of taking part in sacrilegious ceremonies and vandalizing sacred statues. He asked to be allowed to stand trial before campaigning, but was denied. He set sail for Sicily, and in his absence his enemies started gathering "evidence" against him for every sacrilegious crime available and for supposedly conspiring to overthrow the Athenian democracy. "He was convicted in absentia and condemned to death. His property was confiscated and a reward of one talent was promised to whoever succeeded in killing" him and those loyal to him. He fled for his life, while Lamachus was killed in combat. Leaving Nicias alone in command. Unsurprisingly Nicias mismanaged the campaign and led most of his army to their doom. Not only did not Alcibiades became a tyrant or dictator, he was brought down by slanderers and conspiracy theorists.
  • Gaius Flaminius Nepos was a plebeian politician and possibly an early leader of the Populares faction (champions of the urban poor in the Roman Republic). He came to prominence in 232 BC by managing to secure land grants for poor families, an act of questionable legality. He was elected consul in 223 BC and successfully led the Romans in campaigns against the Gauls. His campaigns led to the creation of the new province of Cisalpine Gaul. He continued his political career by constructing the Via Flaminia (which was named after him), establishing colonies at Cremona and Placentia, granting more voting power to the poorer classes, building the Circus Flaminius (which was named after him), and supporting the Lex Claudia, a law preventing the senatorial families from profiting from overseas trade. In 217 BC, he was elected consul for a second time, to face a Carthaginian invasion of Italy. He led his army to defeat against Hannibal and was killed at the Battle of Lake Trasimene. He never became dictator or came close to holding sole power. Following his death, his aristocratic opponents in the Senate rose to power and his patrician rival Fabius Maximus was elected Roman dictator for a second time.

They may have been demagogues, but tyrants or dictators? Hardly. On the other hand, actual tyrants like the bloodthirsty Critias (who executed at least 1,500 political opponents) and the opportunist Theramenes (who managed to bring the downfall of Athenian democracy, before judged as too "moderate" by his own allies and getting executed without trial) are not even mentioned. This is a very biased perspective on Greek and Roman history. Dimadick (talk) 17:13, 8 December 2016 (UTC)

@Dimadick: This is really good information! Would you be willing to radically revise the article's coverage of ancient demagogues? It sounds like you've got all the information and sources ready to go. I put in Cleon and Alcibiades because they're usually mentioned as famous early examples in general coverage of demagogues, but I haven't yet found much by way of specifics about why Alcibiades was a demagogue. I'm not sure that Nepos belongs in the rogues' gallery of leading demagogues; if not, I think it would be fine to delete him. Julius Caesar certainly belongs there, even though some dispute that he was a demagogue. Similar to Cleon, Caesar's takeover of Rome has often been used as a cautionary tale about demagogues—so we should cover that usage, e.g. by the U.S. Founding Fathers. —Ben Kovitz (talk) 19:52, 20 March 2017 (UTC)

Actually, I was using material from our articles on the three politicians. I am familiar with Cleon and Alcibiades, because I have read the works of Thucydides and Aristophanes, along with various modern Greek works which analyze them. Nepos' story fits well in the narrative of conflict between the Populares and the Optimates, which was ongoing for centuries.

What I dispute is that ancient demagogues turned their states to dictatorships. Demagogues thrived in democratic environments and mostly did not have any ownership over official positions. Their ability to gain popular support is what gave them power, but they were never rulers or autocrats.

Julius Caesar is a bit of a strange example. He was a member of the Populares faction, but it was not the love of the people which elevated him to power. At the opening of Caesar's Civil War (49-45 BC), he basically used his own army to invade Rome itself and to drive away his opponents. He was "appointed" dictator by force of arms. Dimadick (talk) 21:25, 20 March 2017 (UTC)

RfC on Donald Trump inclusion[edit]

No consensus. By about 2 to 1, editors are opposed to Donald Trump's inclusion, mainly because he is not yet a historical figure.  Sandstein  17:12, 29 March 2017 (UTC)
The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Over the course of several months, several editors have debated on whether or not Donald Trump should be listed on this page or not. Since there hasn't been an official RfC on this yet, and previous discussions have led to nowhere, I present you now with one question: should Donald Trump be listed as an example of a demagogue or not? SkyWarrior 20:01, 19 February 2017 (UTC)

Please look at the sources before voting. A section below lists all currently known sources. —Ben Kovitz (talk) 15:13, 25 March 2017 (UTC)


  • Probably not. It would be premature to source such a description to current sources about Trump. On the other hand, what would support such a description would be a reliable source about demagogues as a whole, covering many different individual demagogues and not particularly focusing on Trump, if that source characterized Trump as one of those demagogues and discussed why. (I came here from the RfC notice.) --Tryptofish (talk) 01:07, 20 February 2017 (UTC)
  • Yes – there are plenty of serious sources that say so. Here's one, "Williams: Trump Is a Demagogue", from 27 August 2015 from! In June 2016, seven academics provided context in "What History Teaches Us About Demagogues Like The Donald" for Time. Since then, this discussion has intensified, with many links provided on this talk page and in some well-constructed edits in the article itself. Not to mention Trump is disingenuous. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 08:13, 20 February 2017 (UTC)
  • No – Whether or not Trump is a demagogue is not the editing/encyclopedic question. The real issue is whether we are presenting an objective, non-POV article to the reader. Once we say (according to whatever sources) that he is a demagogue, then the counter-views (that he is not) "should" be included. Hence any attempt to achieve BALANCE is doomed to disrupt the article. The debate as to his demagoguery is best confined to his article. – S. Rich (talk) 15:46, 20 February 2017 (UTC)
  • No Summoned by a bot. I agree with S. Rich. I think balance would be needed to accurately convey both sides of the argument, but I don't think this is the page to have that argument. Comatmebro User talk:Comatmebro 18:50, 20 February 2017 (UTC)
  • No. Including a politician who has been in office for a few weeks is blatant WP:RECENTISM in a topic that spans millenia. – Finnusertop (talkcontribs) 15:59, 21 February 2017 (UTC)
  • Comment - I think there's a major problem here, with the entire section "Famous demagogues". This is not an objective term, for which anyone can tick off a set of measurable criteria and conclude that person A is or isn't one. It's a highly subjective, and also pejorative term, and we should never say in Wikipedia's voice that anyone is definitively a demagogue. So on the specific question - should we discuss the case of Donald Trump, and the fact that a significant number of reputable sources have referred to him as one? Yes, of course. The sources are mentioned above by Michael Bednarek. But should we say baldly "Donald Trump is a demagogue", or list him in a section on famous demagogues as if that's incontrovertible fact? No, we shouldn't. Thanks  — Amakuru (talk) 19:51, 23 February 2017 (UTC)
@Amakuru: Actually there are objective criteria for identifying demagogues regardless of one's opinion about them—covered in our article, even! Please see Demagogue#History_and_definition_of_the_word. The "Famous demagogues" section should have only classic examples. (I'm not sure that Nepos is such an example; if not, he should be removed.) I agree that we shouldn't baldly declare Trump a demagogue—not because it's controversial (AFAIK it's not), but because such a statement would be pointless and uninformative. —Ben Kovitz (talk) 08:14, 20 March 2017 (UTC)
  • Oppose It's to soon. Simple enough.-Serialjoepsycho- (talk) 20:02, 23 February 2017 (UTC)
  • Oppose - it doesn't add to the article topic itself and seems just a WP:COATRACK bit to WP:ATTACK. I'm also dubious about even having examples here as it isn't a 'list of' article, and a bing for demagogue is generally naming other folks. Markbassett (talk) 06:30, 24 February 2017 (UTC)
  • Yes.There are multiple sources that describe Trump as a demagogue. ThePlatypusofDoom (talk) 17:33, 26 February 2017 (UTC)
  • No Mainly for reasons given by Srich and others, that the need to put the counter argument (all those fine people who love Trump), would unbalance an article which is mainly about the historical type. Proper place to discuss Trump's demagoguery is one of his own pages and 4 sources (40 even), would only support that he has been described thus, not that he is thus. I note that the Time piece also describes Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Silvio Berlusconi in Italy and Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus alongside Trump, are they also to be added? Also the NYT piece refers to someone calling Trump a demagogue, not using its own voice. Might I suggest that "Historical demagogues" might be better than "Famous" ones as a heading. Pincrete (talk) 18:40, 27 February 2017 (UTC)
  • No. Historical distance is needed to put that . . . [trying to avoid POV here] . . . bloviating ignoramus . . . [OK, not my best effort] . . . into perspective. There are still 47 months left in his term of office. We'll be in for 4 years [please, not 8!] of overwhelming blog-like Trumpery beyond any reasonable weight if editors start whaling into him now. -- WikiPedant (talk) 01:50, 28 February 2017 (UTC)
  • Definitely Yes. He meets most if not all of the criteria listed in the article for demagogues. Well respected scholars (e.g Michael Signer), authors and diverse sources have labeled him as such, providing copious evidence to support the view that he is a representative example of a historical demagogue. And there is no need whatsoever to wait any unspecified period of time before including him. He is either a demagogue or he's not. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5][6] — Preceding unsigned comment added by 03:44, March 5, 2017 (UTC) (talk)
  • Mention somewhere that some reliable sources and scholars have described Trump as a demagogue (per above), but not use him as a universal example of a demagogue because it's too soon and only time will tell what the historical definition of Donald Trump will be. κατάσταση 21:05, 7 March 2017 (UTC)
  • Yes, with a caveat. Amakuru is correct in his above comment. While there is no question that Donald Trump is considered by many reliable sources to be a demagogue and meets many of the traits commonly thought to indicate one, the section itself should not be titled "Famous demagogues", but rather "Figures frequently described as demagogues" or something along those lines. AndrewOne (talk) 19:54, 8 March 2017 (UTC)
    Yes, that would make it much more reasonable. Under that definition, there is no doubt that Trump qualifies. Then we're clearly attributing it to the reliable sources already mentioned, rather than stating it as a bald fact.  — Amakuru (talk) 13:04, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
  • Yes. I would not mind retitling of the section to be more neutral (i.e. "Figures frequently described as demagogues" or thereabouts), but Trump should be included in the list.HervéDuchat (talk) 15:50, 9 March 2017 (UTC)
  • No. Not even close. This would be a serious breach of our BLP policy, since it doesn't appear to be verifiable or neutral. Exceptional claims require exceptional sources, and I've looked through all of the sources cited in this discussion and found nothing exceptional, largely a bunch of opinion and borderline sources. Left uncited is this CNN piece which concludes that Trump isn't "a demagogue in the true sense of the word." (Please review this before dismissing me as a pro-Trump shill.) (I'm not watching this page, so please ping me if you want my attention.) --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 20:02, 13 March 2017 (UTC)
The piece you describe is nearly two years old. Much has changed since then, particularly since Trump has become president and has begun assuming more characteristics of a demagogue. (talk) 21:25, 13 March 2017 (UTC)
Saying that doesn't make it true. We need to cite exceptional sources for this sort of claim. Absent them, the material must be excluded. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 23:44, 14 March 2017 (UTC)
And merely saying that these sources are not exceptional as defined in the above mentioned link -- i.e. multiple, high quality mainstream sources -- does not make them unexceptional. I would strongly disagree with any such characterization of lack of quality of the numerous sources that have been provided that would render them exceptional. Please go back and look at the article's recent edit history and look at the sources cited. Also please see the additional sources cited in conjunction with this RFC and its additional discussion both above and below. HervéDuchat (talk) 01:56, 15 March 2017 (UTC)HervéDuchat (talk) 01:58, 15 March 2017 (UTC)
@DrFleischman: Please see this follow-up article by the same author six months later. It quotes the same authority, Michael Signer, this time saying that Trump has "crossed the line" into full demagoguery. Please see also the section of Trump-related sources below. If you know of any other credible articles arguing that Trump is not a demagogue, please add them. AFAIK, that Trump is a demagogue is no longer controversial. —Ben Kovitz (talk) 09:14, 20 March 2017 (UTC)
Thanks for the new source, but I think you're misunderstanding our verifiability policy. This new CNN source doesn't say Trump is a demagogue. It merely quotes Signer saying he's a demagogue. That's nothing new--there have always been knowledgeable people who call Trump a demagogue, including those quoted in the CNN article I linked to. The question isn't whether some people believe Trump is demagogue. The question is whether the reliable sources describe Trump without contradiction. They don't - so we can't say point-blank that Trump is a demagogue. This is a straightforward application of our BLP policy. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 17:02, 20 March 2017 (UTC)
@DrFleischman: Point well taken about the higher standard of WP:BLP. Can you point me to a current reliable source that contradicts the proposition that Trump is a demagogue? So far, to the best of my knowledge, while few reliable sources say much about this matter (hence by WP:BALASPS we should cover it little if at all), the current sources that address it are now unanimous. Also, have you seen the section below that enumerates and comments on sources on Trump regarding demagoguery? —Ben Kovitz (talk) 18:34, 20 March 2017 (UTC)
I'd prefer not to continue this conversation much longer, since this is a survey section and isn't for extended discussion, but (1) I disagree that the CNN source that says Trump isn't a demagogue is too out-of-date to be reliable, and (2) yes, I have reviewed those sources. Of the 3 identified as "good" or "useful," I see one (the NY Times) that doesn't expressly say that Trump is a demagogue, and two written by a politician and lawyer. Granted Signer seems knowledgeable about demogoguery, but are we seriously considering saying that Trump is a demagogue based on the say-so of an elected Democratic politician? Please don't answer, as that's meant as a rhetorical question, and again, this is just a survey. My !vote stands. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 18:51, 20 March 2017 (UTC)
  • Yes but not in his own section. I'm not aware of any controversy in published sources about whether Trump is a demagogue. All published writings that I've seen that address the topic within the last year point out that he is; none argue the opposite. One older article argues against it, but that was before his demagoguery became clear in 2016. The author, Stephen Collinson, writing in 2015, based his argument on Signer's Fenimore-inspired four-point test, and rescinded the conclusion in a later article; he quoted Signer in both articles.
However, there hasn't been enough written about Trump qua demagogue to fill a section just on him. Remember, folks, all we do on Wikipedia is summarize facts already published in other sources. If you go to a library and look up "demagogue", you won't find much on Trump (nothing in book form yet, AFAIK). The article could, however, mention Trump by way of illustrating something general about demagogues, like his calling legitimate journalism "fake news" as in this recent edit by User:Catholic_nerd. Unfortunately, the cited article makes no explicit mention of demagoguery, so including it here amounts to WP:SYNTHESIS. A good article specifically about Trump's demagoguery might mention the "fake news" trope, though; if so, we should incorporate its material and cite it. It's an excellent illustration of how demagogues attack the press, right along with Hitler's use of the term Lügenpresse (which we should summarize first—as it's already well-covered in secondary sources). —Ben Kovitz (talk) 04:43, 20 March 2017 (UTC)
I would have no problem with not having a separate section devoted to Trump, as long as the references above to 'fake news' and 'Lügenpresse' are included and attributed to Trump's recent actions and statements. Likewise for other examples of ways in which Trump accurately meets criteria for demagogues, as has been noted in various recently reverted entries.HervéDuchat (talk) 15:10, 20 March 2017 (UTC)
  • Absolutely not In time, say after his presidency or even after death, there may be enough hindsight to call him a demagogue, but to include it right now where he has only been in this type of visibility since he tossed his hat into the ring for a few years, that's a gross violation of BLP as well as WP:NOT#NEWS. We need long term hindsight here, not just because a few press people have named him as such. (Counterpoint: that is a fair criticism of him for his own page with appropriately sourced attribution). To use a few current opinions to include his name among a half-dozen examples is very much a BLP/NPOV issue. There is no deadline to including him if history eventually judges him as one. --MASEM (t) 20:50, 20 March 2017 (UTC)
  • Absolutely not - Masem and others nail it. Having to bother commenting here in defense of simple neutral and biographical main wikipedia policies is embarrassing. Govindaharihari (talk) 06:16, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
@Govindaharihari: It's not that simple. Wikipedia reflects current consensus among reliable sources. AFAIK there is no controversy that Trump is a demagogue. What would help is sources. Do you know of any that find that Trump is not a demagogue? Please see current list of sources below. —Ben Kovitz (talk) 14:40, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
  • yes, limited to what he has done to date - namely his campaign and his initial administration. The content should be carefully stated: "In his campaign and the initial period of his presidency...." and should be careful not to make some claims about what he is. We cannot do the WP:CRYSTALBALL thing but the past is the past and there are plenty of sources showing how what he has done to date checks the definitional boxes. Jytdog (talk) 05:40, 23 March 2017 (UTC)
Jytdog - citing what reliable sources? --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 22:21, 24 March 2017 (UTC)
WIth regard to what, exactly? Jytdog (talk) 23:56, 24 March 2017 (UTC)
  • No only because it's too early. But the article topics fit Trump to a T. Give it time - wait until he's out of office. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 12:47, 25 March 2017 (UTC)


Of course this article is not the place to argue whether Trump is or isn't – it's the place to show reliable sources which make that argument for/against, and WP:BALANCE does not preclude that. If arguments against may be hard to find, WP:FALSEBALANCE applies. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 01:21, 21 February 2017 (UTC)

Michael Bednarek - just follow the cites has a couple ways that WP:V needs to consider more and look to be WP:BETTER.
First, the sources show what article it belongs to. Sources that say 'examples of TopicT are X, Y, Z' are about TopicT, and sources that say 'X is TopicT' are about X, saying X relates to TopicT, and it's a fine point of WP:INTEGRITY to properly place with the topic a source is dealing with. One should be approaching it from the topic and trying to stay on topic, it is still WP:OFFTOPIC if a source is only loosely relevant to the article topic.
Second, the sources show WP:V what to portray as its WP:NOTABLE and due WP:WEIGHT. Either a major source or multiple independent sources help guide the amount it deserves a mention and how to portray it, and that may be showing that it looks like WP:FRINGE or WP:Cherrypicking. The WP:V can be a demonstration that its not significant to the topic and/or that it's just a POV that would have to show the other POV(s) too if it's mentioned. One can google and find Trump with almost any quality or topic and find an instance -- as well as the opposite -- as well as numerous sources talking about value labels as POVs, that what some view as (for example) nationalistic others say is patriotic.
Until and unless there is a good reason that it helps cover the subject Demagogue better, I think if one wants to improve this article it would be better to do other things -- go into the methods of demagogue, or working the to-do list, or perhaps consider adding some aspect of demagogue like the other meaning of 'leader espousing the cause of the common people'.
p.s. It's not on topic or about WP guidelines, but for full disclosure I'll mention that I'm feeling I've had too much mentions of Trump (elsewhere as well as WP). There's no WP:WEIGHT about too many articles unless it's WP:RECENTISM, but that WP coverage seems to be showing him as more important than Obama plus FDR plus George Washington just doesn't sit right. Cheers Markbassett (talk) 18:53, 25 February 2017 (UTC)

He should be listed as somoeone who has been accused of being a demagogue. Not called one. Apollo The Logician (talk) 17:42, 26 February 2017 (UTC)

That's sophistry, and your choice of "accused" is WP:SYNTH. Still, even listing him as someone being described as demagogue by reputable sources won't apparently fly here. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 01:21, 27 February 2017 (UTC)
No I am just anti-POV pushing. Apollo The Logician (talk) 18:26, 28 February 2017 (UTC)
Apollo The Logician - that's the meat of the 'his article not this article' point -- when saying it (he should be) is said as something about him then it's material for his page, to identify a characteristic of him -- not a characteristic of this article. Unless it adds something to the topic Demagogue about what demagoguery is, then I think it doesn't belong _here_. If his name starts getting put in every quality said about him -- 'villain', 'hero', 'nationalism', 'patriotism', 'brave', 'crazy', 'twitter', 'egotist', 'famous' -- we'd just have wound up putting his name on a lot more pages here and making him more famous/infamous but not helping those pages be better. Markbassett (talk) 01:29, 28 February 2017 (UTC)

Let's look at our lede and parse: "A demagogue ... or rabble-rouser is a leader [Obama and/or Trump and/or many other US politicians] in a democracy [the US] who gains popularity [Obama and/or Trump etc.] by exploiting prejudice and ignorance among the common people, [Obama and Trump etc.] whipping up the passions of the crowd [Obama and Trump etc.] and shutting down reasoned deliberation [NOTHING has been shut down by either]. Demagogues have usually advocated immediate, violent action to address a national crisis while accusing moderate and thoughtful opponents of weakness or disloyalty.[citation needed] [Hmmmm ... "usually"? Is this a requirement in the definition of demagogue?] Demagogues overturn established customs of political conduct, or promise or threaten to do so.[citation needed] [Quite radical and as yet unsupported in either case] Most who were elected to high office changed their democracy into some form of managed democracy.[citation needed] [WP:CRYSTAL]" — Here is my editing point – in these days of hyper-media it is easy to find "RS" which says this or that. BUT are we taking a dispassionate, reasoned look at what will improve this article? Or are we trumpeting our own views? – S. Rich (talk) 16:49, 9 March 2017 (UTC)

Yes, we are taking a dispassionate and reasoned look at improving the article by including Trump, since by rational and factually-based criteria, he is a demagogue.HervéDuchat (talk) 19:43, 9 March 2017 (UTC)
If one uses the criteria established by the article itself for what constitutes a demagogue, the facts, supported by reliable sources cited in recent edits, point towards a rational basis for inclusion. It seems to me that the discussion here aligns with a consensus view.HervéDuchat (talk) 07:45, 27 February 2017 (UTC)
The emerging edit war doesn't make sense. The recent additions are all from RS and include a balanced array of mainstream sources including The New Yorker, Washington Times, etc. HervéDuchat (talk) 15:40, 27 February 2017 (UTC)
I've been trying hard to reach a consensus, but no one is discussing this here on the Talk page. All I get is reverting back to the unedited version without inclusion of any of the recently added references to Trump's actions that are, according to well documented, mainstream sources, indicative that he fits the mold of a demagogue, as set forth in this article's headings. If there were genuine and legitimate criticisms of these edits based on NPOV issues, which I haven't seen, I could understand simple reversion of edits, but that has not been the case. Nebulous statements about Trump's premature place in history or "not now" comments don't cut it. I'd like to see some genuine discussion and attempts at compromise or consensus that results in inclusion, at least in some form, of these matters. If I don't see some movement from editors to reach consensus, I will have to up the level of this discussion to a higher level dispute resolution status, which I'd rather not have to do. As it stands, this reeks of unilateral partisan actions not based on any genuine dispute about the legitimacy or relevance of the sourcing or wording of the editsHervéDuchat (talk) 18:46, 27 February 2017 (UTC)
@HervéDuchat: I have written a lot on this talk page about whether, why, and how to include Trump in the article. Please search for my name above and in the archive, and I think you'll find that I've addressed a lot of the points you've brought up—everything from neutrality to appropriate sources to "not now" to the naming of sections. If you have a point that hasn't been addressed, would you please start a section specifically about that? —Ben Kovitz (talk) 06:04, 20 March 2017 (UTC)
I have, by the way, seen on Wikipedia's entry for Lügenpresse (Lying Press) several references to Trump. These references fit perfectly with the subheading on Demagogues outlining the characteristic of repeatedly disparaging the press. If it's good enough for another Wikipedia article, it should be good enough for this article.HervéDuchat (talk) 20:11, 9 March 2017 (UTC)
A few points: When you say "dispassionate and reasoned" I think you mean I want Trump listed. Next, there is no "emerging edit war" – right now various editors are discussing, compromising, reaching a consensus, etc.. HD, it seems that the particular consensus you strive for is one which you prefer. Finally, your comment about "lying press is simply WP:OSE.
In any event, I'll offer another suggestion for interested editors: Look at Megan Garber's article in The Atlantic (already linked above).[7] She is entirely correct when she says "It's more than an insult. It's a loaded word ...." (And she says labeling Trump as a demagogue is "More dangerous.") And that point out how important is the POV aspect of this RfC and discussion. If we mention Trump in this article we are promoting a view that is an insult, non-encyclopedic, and a BLP violation. The only proper place to use the term is in those articles which contain explicit criticisms of Trump. – S. Rich (talk) 16:03, 12 March 2017 (UTC)23:01, 12 March 2017 (UTC)
To expand on my suggestion, use the sources provided above to expand the article Public image of Donald Trump. That way editors can push wherever they want with various descriptions. – S. Rich (talk) 22:58, 12 March 2017 (UTC)
The reference related to "Lying Press" elsewhere is mentioned because WP consistency across WP articles is a valid reason. (talk) 21:25, 13 March 2017 (UTC)

* BTW – The RFC has been open for 30 days now and I've posted a request for closure at WP:Administrators'_noticeboard/Requests_for_closure#Talk:Demagogue.23RfC on Donald Trump inclusion. – S. Rich (talk) 23:28, 21 March 2017 (UTC)

  • I invite editors to look at the essay WP:HISTRS. Our article is, in fact, one that discusses the history of demagogues with an academic approach. With this in mind, the advice of the essay ought to be followed. – S. Rich (talk) 03:01, 25 March 2017 (UTC)
I invite you to look at the reference sources I list below, particularly that listed for March 17, 2017, which includes highly respected and reliable academic writings. e.g. Wehner and Mercieca. HervéDuchat (talk) 14:34, 25 March 2017 (UTC)
User:HervéDuchat has only 28 edits to this wikipedia, see them all here all of them are in relation to Trump and Demagogue . Govindaharihari (talk) 01:34, 26 March 2017 (UTC)
That is utterly irrelevant, as well as incorrect. I have also edited on the subject of diplomatic immunity. HervéDuchat (talk) 02:16, 26 March 2017 (UTC)
It is not irrelevant at all, your editing history reflects your WP:POV, Yes you also have 'two edits commenting on russia. Govindaharihari (talk) 02:32, 26 March 2017 (UTC)

Is there a controversy?[edit]

Many of the !votes above are premised on there being a controversy about whether Trump is a demagogue. But is there any controversy?

Our current list of sources is unanimous: everything credible in print appears to say that Trump is a demagogue. All but one published within the last year for granted that any reader already knows that he's a demagogue; the exception, by Michael Signer from Dec. 2, 2016, still basically assumes that you see that Trump is a demagogue, but addresses the question of whether "demagogue" is merely a subjective term of opprobrium (i.e. it explains the concept for non-experts). If you know of any current sources that indicate that there is any real controversy about this matter, please add them to the Sources section and add a note here. —Ben Kovitz (talk) 15:28, 25 March 2017 (UTC)

It is clearly controversial and a wp:npov concern to use opinionated commentary to label a living person as a demagogue. This is embarrassing, can someone please close this partisan trash. As for the list of sources, Michael Signer is mentioned ten times - his page says he is a democratic activist. lala. Govindaharihari (talk) 17:41, 25 March 2017 (UTC)
Govindahari, calling the claim "clearly controversial" and calling this section "partisan trash" don't shed light on the question of whether a controversy exists; same with your remark about the current list of sources, some of which involve Michael Signer and some of which don't. If you would point out a credible source or two that establish that a controversy really exists, that could be very helpful. Depending on the quality of those sources, it might even settle this matter and quickly establish consensus. —Ben Kovitz (talk) 23:41, 25 March 2017 (UTC)
It's the equal of the when are you going to stop beating your wife situation. I don't need to show it's controversial, it clearly is without more opinionated press links suggesting it is and even if there are no opinionated press links suggesting it is controversial it clearly is controversial - I hate having to comment about this worthless crap and I won't reply again. I will note though that for the last six months User:BenKovitz is almost a single issue account in regards to Trump and demagogue. Contributions/BenKovitz Govindaharihari (talk) 01:16, 26 March 2017 (UTC)
Govindaharihari, your personal attacks against editors are unhelpful to the discussion. HervéDuchat (talk) 02:20, 26 March 2017 (UTC)
If I have personally attacked anyone please wp:personal attack let me know and show me a link and I will deal with that, commenting on your editing history is not a personal attack as far as I am aware? thanks. Govindaharihari (talk) 02:37, 26 March 2017 (UTC)
Taking this thread of discussion to the proper forum, the User Talk page. re: WP:PA. HervéDuchat (talk) 03:43, 26 March 2017 (UTC)
  • Granted there are a variety of useful and non-useful sources, but the editing question is whether adding Trump's name violates BLP, NOTNEWS, NOTEWORTHY, RECENTISM, and other guidelines/policies. As before, I submit that use of these sources is best restricted to the Donald Trump article. – S. Rich (talk) 23:12, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
@Srich32977: would you please move this comment to another section somewhere above? Adding it here turns the list of sources into yet another place to declare one's opinion about the survey, and encourages others to further erode the separation between that question and discussion of one source at a time. Feel free to delete this request of mine when and if you do. Thanks. —Ben Kovitz (talk) 15:13, 25 March 2017 (UTC)


Please add specific sources on Trump's demagoguery here and/or comment on their usefulness for the Demagogue article.

Jul 23, 2015

Out of date By Stephen Collinson. Quotes Michael Signer and appeals to Signer's criteria to argue that Trump has demagogic qualities but doesn't measure up to a full demagogue. Rescinded in follow-up article by Collinson on Dec. 30, 2015.

Aug 27, 2015

Poor Opinion. Author fears that Trump is a demagogue. A couple brief remarks about scapegoating and xenophobia. Not usable. —Ben Kovitz (talk) 08:45, 20 March 2017 (UTC)

Dec 6, 2015

Good Thorough, detailed, factual analysis of Trump's rhetoric, with explanations of how he compares to historical demagogues and how he embodies the essential characteristics of demagogues. Establishes pretty authoritatively that Trump is a demagogue, with lots of specifics that we can summarize. —Ben Kovitz (talk) 08:45, 20 March 2017 (UTC)

Dec 10, 2015

Useful but not for citing Says that calling a politician a demagogue amounts to calling him or her a threat to democracy. Points out that Trump is a demagogue but offers few specifics about him that we can summarize. However, it does run through much of the standard litany on demagogues that is found in most sources about demagogues in general, and it includes links to other sources on demagogues in general and on Trump as demagogue. We probably won't have much use for citing this source directly, but it can give an editor an overview of coverage throughout the main authoritative sources and it provides leads to sources that we might be able to cite. —Ben Kovitz (talk) 07:14, 20 March 2017 (UTC)

December 11, 2015:

Dec 30, 2015

Useful By Stephen Collinson, six months after his article above. Quotes Signer again, this time explaining that Trump had "crossed the line" and become a full demagogue. Has citable specifics. —Ben Kovitz (talk) 09:06, 20 March 2017 (UTC)

Feb 29, 2016

Good By Michael Signer, a leading authority on demagogues. Discusses Trump to teach about demagogues, and compares Trump with past demagogues to shed light on how Trump is likely to behave in office. Good source for this article: includes material (not all about Trump) that explains what demagogues are and do. Only basis for doubt is probable light editorial oversight compared to a scholarly article or book. —Ben Kovitz (talk) 07:14, 20 March 2017 (UTC)

Mar 10, 2016

Poor Opinion piece, light on facts. While the author is certainly right that the U.S. Founding Fathers were most afraid of demagogues like Trump, we can't really use this as a source due to lack of factual material. —Ben Kovitz (talk) 07:14, 20 March 2017 (UTC)

Jun 20, 2016

Useful but not for citing Seven scholars answer the question "How does democracy survive demagoguery?" Lots of good historical material here about demagogues in general, but probably any fact here has better sources than this one. Also, no information about Trump except that the article takes for granted that Trump is a demagogue. This counts reasonably as evidence that "Trump is a demagogue" is not controversial, but we can't cite this article for that fact. —Ben Kovitz (talk) 08:45, 20 March 2017 (UTC)

Sep 20, 2016

Poor Describes Trump's ownership of, and non-denial denial of owning, a book of Hitler speeches. Nothing specifically about demagoguery. —Ben Kovitz (talk) 20:19, 20 March 2017 (UTC)

Oct 19, 2016

Poor Analyzes implications of Trump's demagoguery for addressing climate change. Takes for granted that Trump is a demagogue but says little or nothing about demagoguery. Contains little or nothing that we can summarize in this article. —Ben Kovitz (talk) 07:14, 20 March 2017 (UTC)

Nov 17, 2016

Maybe good Another article by Michael Signer. Explains, factually, that the Electoral College was primarily designed to stop demagogues. This point is probably made more thoroughly in Signer's book Demagogue but this article explains specifics about Trump with regard to demagoguery in general. Basis for doubt: this is an opinion piece, arguing that the Electors should revolt and vote against Trump—so probably light on editorial oversight. —Ben Kovitz (talk) 08:45, 20 March 2017 (UTC)

November 23, 2016:

Dec 2, 2016

Good Another by Michael Signer. Explains how Trump didn't appear at first to be a demagogue but clearly has shown himself to be one, and explains that this is precise use of language, not a matter of semantics or opinion. Points out that this observation is now commonplace, with some illustrative links. Many specifics about why Trump is a demagogue. Briefly discusses the ever-present threat of demagogues to democracies and U.S. Founding Fathers' attempts to prevent takeover by demagogues. —Ben Kovitz (talk) 19:03, 20 March 2017 (UTC)

Jan 20, 2017

Poor Opinion, wandering commentary on current events, no specifics on Trump's demagoguery. I don't think we can use this. —Ben Kovitz (talk) 07:14, 20 March 2017 (UTC)

Jan 23, 2017

Poor Proposes "Trump is a demagogue" as one of three possibilities, which apparently are not mutually exclusive, and also takes that possibility for granted. Somewhat incoherent, and offers almost no information about demagoguery in general or Trump's in particular. Not useful for Wikipedia. —Ben Kovitz (talk) 07:14, 20 March 2017 (UTC)

Feb 17, 2017

Unusable Describes Trump's calling legitimate journalism "fake news" and an "enemy of the American people". These are clearly demagogic tactics but the article isn't about demagogy. For us to cite it as being about demagogy would be WP:SYNTHESIS. —Ben Kovitz (talk) 21:59, 20 March 2017 (UTC)

March 17, 2017

Usable for References The article itself is not by a RS, however, the references cited are numerous and of good quality and reliability, including articles by both conservative and liberal authors. There are so many good references here that these alone would be sufficient to justify inclusion of Trump as a demagogue. Of particular note in this regard is the linked article containing an interview with Peter Wehner of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and the book, "The Rhetorical Brilliance of Donald Trump, Demagogue for President" written by Texas A&M Professor, Jennifer Mercieca.HervéDuchat (talk) 00:13, 23 March 2017 (UTC)

March 20, 2017

Excellent Says, "No American demagogue, not Huey Long, not Joseph McCarthy, not George Wallace, has ever achieved such proximity to national power." "Trump can be viewed as part of a deadly serious wave of authoritarians and xenophobes, who have come to power in Russia, Poland and Hungary." Goes on to describe Trump's criticism of the "weak" leaders we have in the US. References Trump's start of the birther movement, use of insults, bigotry, and courting of the basest elements of US political culture, comparing these to Nixon's Southern Strategy. These are all typical demagogue traits, tactics and associations. HervéDuchat (talk) 23:51, 22 March 2017 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Adding Trump to list of famous demagogues[edit]

There has already been a discussion about this, but a general conclusion was never clear to me. President Donald Trump appears to fit the definition of a demagogue, but many editors have refused to add him to this list because of POV pushing. Can we have people comment on whether or not to add Donald Trump to a list of demagogues on this article? AIN515 (talk) 20:09, 5 November 2017 (UTC)

Actually we've had several discussions about this. (See the archives for this year and 2016.) But to respond, we have to make sure that WP remains neutral on the topic, every topic. And including Trump as an example of a demagogue is POV, pure and simple. The readers are informed about demagogues through the other, neutral, scholarly sources in the article. Besides, "fits the definition" is an "according to whom?" matter. The WP:TOPIC of the article is an historical discussion of demagogues over thousands of years of history, and Trump is a recent event. More importantly, we have the content policy of WP:LIVE which mandates we stay clear of POV problems when it comes to living people. The proper page(s) for stating the demagogue view-points about Trump are those pages which discuss him directly. We cannot let WP be a WP:SOAPBOX for announcing Trump=demagogue=Trump. – S. Rich (talk) 02:59, 6 November 2017 (UTC)
I've said it before and I say it again: characterising Trump as demagogue is not POV; in line with Wikipedia policies, that's only reporting what many reputable sources have written. On the other hand, whether this Wikipedia article includes him or not doesn't affect that fact – see the results of this Google search. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 05:27, 6 November 2017 (UTC)
What I'm wondering is why we can have Hitler and Joseph McCarthy, but not Trump. If we list anybody, there are bound to be people who will object to the classification. This is not a matter of opinion. This is a list of people that meet a specific criteria. AIN515 (talk) 18:55, 7 November 2017 (UTC)
@Ain515: Wikipedia only summarizes the authoritative literature on a topic. So, the fact that someone is a demagogue is by itself a weak reason to include him. There are many demagogues that we don't cover. We cover Hitler and McCarthy because they are covered extensively in the literature on demagogues—not simply because they're demagogues. However, there is some authoritative literature pointing out that Trump is a demagogue and analyzing his demagoguery. I have never heard of any controversy about this. I think it would be OK to briefly mention Trump somewhere as an example of a demagogue, maybe like the way we briefly mention Stanisław Tymiński. (However, see above for a discussion where this conclusion did not reach consensus.) But it would not be appropriate to write a whole section about Trump or Tymiński or cover either of them in depth, because Trump and Tymiński occupy only a tiny fraction of a percent of the whole literature on demagogues; see WP:BALASPS. —Ben Kovitz (talk) 05:49, 11 November 2017 (UTC)
Your President doesn't fit the definition of demagogue, quite simply because he doesn't make the grade. To be a real demagogue you have to be able to shut down reasoned deliberation: read the lede. Last time I looked, reasoned deliberation was still going on in America. (And I sort of remember that most American voters voted for the other candidate.) Sorry, but some people on this forum seem to me not old enough to remember what a real demagogue was like. Now, Senator McCarthy knew how to shut down reasoned deliberation. I can remember reasonable people being scared to speak out in case he labelled them a Communist – which could cost you your job in those days. But Trump? Get real. Ttocserp 09:14, 3 December 2017 (UTC)
to address these criticisms that trump is to witless and charmless and unpopular to be considered a demagogue, I have added: “Trump is considered the most archetpical demagogue since Hitler, alveit with considerably less warmth or charm.” I hope this adderesses your concerns. Unconcealment (talk) 04:00, 1 April 2018 (UTC)
Yeah, um, no. This is an encyclopedia and not a place to post your personal opinions. Rklawton (talk) 04:06, 1 April 2018 (UTC)

"The enduring character of demagogues"[edit]

@Srich32977: I just reverted your change of "The enduring character of demagogues" to "The character of demagogues". I'm actually not especially fond of "The enduring character of demagogues". I'll explain it here; maybe you or someone else reading this can suggest a better title. The section is about a common observation made in the sources: demagogues and demagoguery have stayed pretty much the same across millenia (modulo the changing technologies of news media). That's why I changed it back from merely "The character of demagogues": the point is the enduringness. "Enduring" isn't ideal, and I think "The perennial character of demagogues" doesn't fit right. "Demagogues are pretty much the same in every age" is clear but lacks encyclopedia tone, of course. I haven't looked over the sources in a long time. They might have good word for this. Or maybe you do. Any ideas? (Signer says that demagogues are an "endemic" problem of democracies, but that word seems even less clear without explanation.) —Ben Kovitz (talk) 22:08, 11 November 2017 (UTC)

How about "Character of demagogues through history"? – S. Rich (talk) 23:51, 11 November 2017 (UTC)
I think that title suggests that the character of demagogues has changed throughout history. I'll keep thinking… —Ben Kovitz (talk) 12:30, 23 December 2017 (UTC)