Center for American Progress Action

: Demagogue: The Fight to Save Democracy from Its Worst Enemies
Past Event

Demagogue: The Fight to Save Democracy from Its Worst Enemies

12:00 - 1:30 PM EST

Please join us for a provocative dicussion about the future of democracy in the post-Bush years.  Michael Signer’s debut book Demagogue illuminates how humanity’s urge for liberty can triumph over the dark forces that threaten our freedom. The demagogue is a dangerous byproduct of democracy, an authoritarian leader who owes his initial rise to the democratic support of the masses and who will go to almost any extreme to expand his power. This book describes not only these fascinating, often violent usurpers of freedom, from Cleon of Athens to Huey Long to Adolf Hitler, but also the heroes who have resisted them, from Aristophanes to Thomas Jefferson to Hannah Arendt.

Demagogue also unravels the mystery of how 21st century leaders have made such profound mistakes in Iraq and elsewhere, unleashing democracy’s ancient enemy rather than securing a new democratic world. Signer presents a bold new theory of democracy and American power, "exemplarism," revealing a host of new, innovative measures that can undermine demagogues, strengthen democracy, and create a freer world.

In the end, Signer presciently reveals how America’s historic victory over the demagogue at home can help a new generation of leaders rescue democracy across the world.

Praise for Demagogue:

"Michael Signer has written a strikingly original book. Demagogue tells the story of democracy by analyzing its antithesis – the often frighteningly charismatic leader who draws his strength from his purported connection to the demos itself. Amid the myriad studies of democracy and waves of democratization, of rising incomes, civil society, institutions and elections, Signer brings the human element back into the equation. The demagogue, he argues, is an eternal element in democracy’s rise and fall, one that we ignore today, from Venezuela to Russia, at our peril."

–Anne-Marie Slaughter

"Michael Signer has given us a deeply thoughtful book. . . . Written with refreshing clarity and flair, this is a book to enjoy—and not soon forget."

– Derek Chollet

Copies of Demagogue will be available for purchase at the event.