The Demagogue Cometh (Again): Trump

Elizabeth Boleman-Herring

Elizabeth Boleman-Herring

“In the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election, the Republican Party has been hijacked by a demagogue. Along with everyone else in the twittering class, I’ve waited several months too long to make this pronouncement, but the worst has indeed come to pass—again—in America.”—Elizabeth Boleman-Herring

By Way of Being

By Elizabeth Boleman-Herring

“We’re going to win so much. You’re going to get tired of winning. You’re going to say, ‘Please, Mr. President, I have a headache. Please, don’t win so much. This is getting terrible.’ And I’m going to say, ‘No, we have to make America great again.’ You’re gonna say, ‘Please.’ I said, ‘Nope, nope. We’re gonna keep winning.’”Donald Trump

“We won the evangelicals. We won with young. We won with old. We won with highly educated. We won with poorly educated. I love the poorly educated!”Donald Trump

Demagogues past and present.

Demagogues past and present.

Elizabeth Boleman-Herring

PETIT TRIANON Florida—(Weekly Hubris)—3/7/2016—In the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election, the Republican Party has been hijacked by a demagogue.

Along with everyone else in the twittering class, I’ve waited several months too long to make this pronouncement, but the worst has indeed come to pass—again—in America.

I imagined that, in my lifetime, two terms (the second, albeit, stolen, courtesy the Supreme Court and Florida) of one demagogue, George W. Bush, would suffice for the Great American Unwashed. But, apparently, the Low Information Crowd, the Poorly Educated, haven’t yet got this madness out of their systems. So, here we go again.

A late (in August) prosecution of Trump for RICO violations (for bilking “students” at  “Trump University”) may yet slow the orange-haired juggernaut, but it’s going to be a Herculean task stopping him: Hillary should order a hazmat suit now.

We shouldn’t be surprised at Trump’s rise, though. A party hell-bent, over the past 20-odd years, on conning the American people out of the vote (by gerrymandering and voting rights infringement), and recently ascendant in the House and Senate due to the shady, back-room efforts of the ultra-right, .001-percent, wackadoodle donor class (the Koch brothers, et al), was ripe for a hostile, lunatic fringe buy-out . . . but I guess I just hoped voters would have more sense. Apparently, some 30 percent of us do not.

In his book, Demagogue: The Fight to Save Democracy from Its Worst Enemies, liberal advocate and Mayor of Charlottesville VA Michael Signer cites James Fennimore Cooper’s four-point definition of a demagogue: “1) They fashion themselves as a man or woman of the common people, as opposed to the elites; 2) their politics depends on a powerful, visceral connection with the people that dramatically transcends ordinary political popularity; 3) they manipulate this connection, and the raging popularity it affords, for their own benefit and ambition; and 4) they threaten or outright break established rules of conduct, institutions, and even the law. Either way, they are intrinsically violent.”

Trump in a classical Greek nutshell.

And, yes, and I fear we, and long-suffering Hillary, are going to be stuck with taking out the reeking garbage come November: Lord knows the Republicans aren’t up to the task. They’ve still got Cruz and Rubio on board.

In the event there are still some of you, particularly in Western Europe, who are responding to Trump’s candidacy (and probable nomination) in disbelief, it may come as some comfort to know that the fascist strain in US politics has been there since the git-go: “W” wasn’t our first demagogue, nor will he be the last.

In fact, democracies, and republics, such as ours, are prone to this infection, which Signer likens, very aptly, to a retrovirus.

He writes, “Democracy suffers from an intrinsic paradox—left to its own devices, freedom, humanity’s ultimate ambition, can degenerate into its opposite: tyranny. It is as if humanity is somehow bent on suicide or even matricide, where the demagogue attacks the very system that gave him birth.”

Suicide. Matricide. Precisely what’s driving Global Warming and our refusal even to acknowledge it, let alone rise to its occasion.

The Greek historian Polybius (c. 200—c. 118 BC), held that all democracies are inevitably undone by demagogues; that every democracy eventually decays into “a government of violence and the strong hand,” leading to “tumultuous assemblies, massacres, banishments.”

Well, America is not a democracy, but our sort of republic may be close enough for government work. And we certainly now have tumultuous assemblies, massacres (in the form of school and workplace shootings, as well as violence against the poor, the disenfranchised, and voters of color). Yet to come? A wall named Trump? The “banishment” of all Muslims? Bread and circuses? The death of all federal regulation of anything that might check the greed of such present-tense, this-generation-only robber barons?

As the cultural pendulum swings, I look back at the reasonable, high-toned, in some ways gormless presidency of that elegant and beautifully educated former senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, and think . . . in America, I really should have seen Trump coming.

As a people, we just cannot do reason, high-toned-ness, adult-in-the-room governance for long before our Real Housewives, reality TV, Jerry Springer inner child claws its way out of the body politic.

Still I, for one, hope there’s still time enough, and moral will, to put Alien V back in the box where he belongs.

Note: The image of Mussolini and Trump derives from

Further Reading:

1) Wikipedia entry on the meaning of the word “demagogue”:

2) “Demagogue: The Fight to Save Democracy from Its Worst Enemies,” by Michael Signer

3) “Here’s what demagogues like Trump do to their countries when they take power: The Donald has all the traits of his political forebears, and he’ll present all the same dangers,” by Michael Signer, “The Washington Post,” 2/29/2016,

4) “Jill Abramson: ‘Plenty of evidence’ Trump is a demagogue and a racist,” by Eliza Collins, Politico, 2/29/2016

5) “Of Demagogues and of Constitutionalism, an examination of Michael Signer’s book,” by teacherken,

6) For further re the RICO/Trump University case:

To order Elizabeth Boleman-Herring’s memoir and/or her erotic novel, click on the book covers below:

Elizabeth Boleman, Greek Unorthdox: Bande a Part & a Farewell to Ikaros

Elizabeth Boleman Herring, The Visitors’ Book (or Silva Rerum): An Erotic Fable

Elizabeth Boleman-Herring

About Elizabeth Boleman-Herring

Elizabeth Boleman-Herring, Publishing-Editor of “Weekly Hubris,” considers herself an Outsider Artist (of Ink). The most recent of her 15-odd books is The Visitors’ Book (or Silva Rerum): An Erotic Fable, now available in a third edition on Kindle. Thirty years an academic, she has also worked steadily as a founding-editor of journals, magazines, and newspapers in her two homelands, Greece, and America. Three other hats Boleman-Herring has at times worn are those of a Traditional Usui Reiki Master, an Iyengar-Style Yoga teacher, a HuffPost columnist and, as “Bebe Herring,” a jazz lyricist for the likes of Thelonious Monk, Kenny Dorham, and Bill Evans. (Her online Greek travel guide is still accessible at, and her memoir, Greek Unorthodox: Bande a Part & A Farewell To Ikaros, is available through Boleman-Herring makes her home with the Rev. Robin White; jazz trumpeter Dean Pratt (leader of the eponymous Dean Pratt Big Band); Calliope; and Scout . . . in her beloved Up-Country South Carolina, the state James Louis Petigru opined was “too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum.” (Author Photos by Robin White.)
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9 Responses to The Demagogue Cometh (Again): Trump

  1. Avatar Scott Whitfield says:

    Once again, E, you have captured and capsulized the situation with nothing short of sheer eloquent brilliance. We haven’t given up on Bernie here. :>)

  2. Elizabeth Boleman-Herring Elizabeth Boleman-Herring says:

    We voted–for Bernie–here in Early Voting today, which involved a picture ID PLUS running the gauntlet of SIX elderly white people at the precinct. (This country’s gone down the toilet!) There were Trump “supporters” on the sidewalk too close to the precinct, as well. I took great pleasure in asking an African-American woman to have them moved, which she did. Florida!

  3. Avatar Michael House says:

    Don’t worry about Trump, he can’t win. He has the biggest negative rating of any candidate. With Carson, Christie and Palin backing him, he doomed. If there is a stitch-up at the convention, and he is robbed of the nomination, half the Republican retards will sit on their hands and not vote. The man really to fear is Cruz. He believes in things. The only thing Trump believes in is Trump. I presume that the Democrats will have well in mind that: 1. he funded Hilary’s last Presidential campaign; 2. he got his lawyer to write to Bill Maher saying that his father was Fred Trump and not an orange-haired orang-utan; 3 he used to be pro-choice. There is so much ammunition out there that can’t miss. Put you trust in Chjurchill who said that Americans usually do the right thing – after trying everything else first.

  4. Elizabeth Boleman-Herring Elizabeth Boleman-Herring says:

    Michael, you’re not HERE. If you were, you would know that it doesn’t matter whether Trump “wins” a thing: his racist, misogynist, enraged, dimwit supporters are with us for the duration. I had to share a swimming pool with some of them yesterday, and nearly came to fisticuffs. It’s very, very uncomfortable here at present and as close to civil war conditions as I’ve ever felt it. Come back for a visit, and see what I mean.

  5. Avatar Scott Whitfield says:

    Yes, Michael, Elizabeth speaks the truth! Trump does NOT scare me; his SUPPORTERS scare the HELL out of me!

  6. Avatar Anita Sullivan says:

    I’m hoping the Law of Unintended Consequences will swing its tail in time and hit Trump (and Cruz) in the middle of their foreheads where their Third Eyes would reside if they hadn’t shriveled up long ago — by “in time” I mean before the election. I do take some delusional comfort in thinking the Mexicans probably will be glad to build a wall for free, except that it will be somewhat north of Texas. . . .(heh heh)
    Thanks again for an informative and lucid piece of writing, Elizabeth!

  7. Elizabeth Boleman-Herring Elizabeth Boleman-Herring says:

    Thank you, Anita. It’s difficult to express to those who’ve not visited the US in some time, or who never have, what a shift the nation’s undergone since The So-Called Tea Party seized Congress. The Tea Party, and Trump, after them, was a fairly predictable result of the Republicans’–and the donor class’s–believing they could create and then control a Golem of hate, fear, and obstructionism. The “create” part was easy to pull off: 10 percent of us will always follow a demagogue. It’s the “control” part they forgot to factor in.

  8. Avatar Gregory Todd says:

    Suggest you read (first half anyway) “It Can’t Happen Here” by sinclair Lewis. Old-fashioned, clumsy prose, caricature characters perhaps, but a scary, imaginative depiction of a takeover of the US of an authoritarian figure, who increasingly rules by “emergency measures”, as he promotes the bigots and racists into positions of arbitrary power.

    Lewis figured out a lot of what we were only to learn later about zhitler’s Germany. He wrote the book in 1934…

  9. Elizabeth Boleman-Herring Elizabeth Boleman-Herring says:

    Thank you, Gregory, for reminding me of Sinclair Lewis, whom I “grew up on,” assigned to read him by my activist father. I hope my readers will look up “It Can’t Happen Here,” and I will now see where my own copy has got to.

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