Home National Politics Mike Signer: “How to Beat the Demagogues”

Mike Signer: “How to Beat the Demagogues”


Virginia Tech Adjunct Professor and former Virginia Lieutenant Governor candidate Mike Signer takes on “demagogues,” brick-throwing “Tea Party” activists, and “melodramatic opportunists like Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck.”  Signer’s key points:

1. “Ad hominem attacks can backfire…ad hominem attacks against opportunists like Beck and Palin can often backfire, making them both more popular and even more sympathetic.”

2. “Help educate people about our constitutional traditions…the chattering class must translate its concern about stability into forceful, thoughtful, sustained attempts to educate the citizenry about the systemic dangers of demagogues.”

3. “Extreme opportunists usually self-destruct…Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, even the nativist Lou Dobbs (rumored last year to be looking at a presidential run) may look longingly at actual national power. But they will most likely collapse if they actually seek it and refuse to let go their demagogic ways.”

4. “Side with the people and show them results…[Democrats] should focus on direct job creation people can see, rather than economic theories they have to believe.”

I particularly agree with Signer’s last point, that Democrats need to ramp up efforts aimed at helping “Main Street,” perhaps along the lines of a modern-day “Civilian Conservation Corps,” “Works Progress Administration” and “National Youth Administration.”  Let Republicans fight for rich people and Wall Street, while Democrats fight for working people and the middle class. That’s not just the right thing to do economically and morally, it’s also the smart move politically. Can we say “no brainer?”

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