What—and who—is a demagogue? How did America’s Founders envision the presidency? What should a constitutional democracy look like—and how can it be fixed when it appears to be broken?Jack Goldsmith interviews Posner about the book on the Lawfare podcast. Also, this.
Something is definitely wrong with Donald Trump’s presidency, but what exactly? The extraordinary negative reaction to Trump’s election—by conservative intellectuals, liberals, Democrats, and global leaders alike—goes beyond ordinary partisan and policy disagreements. It reflects genuine fear about the vitality of our constitutional system. The Founders, reaching back to classical precedents, feared that their experiment in mass self-government could produce a demagogue: a charismatic ruler who would gain and hold on to power by manipulating the public rather than by advancing the public good.
President Trump, who has played to the mob and attacked institutions from the judiciary to the press, appears to embody these ideas. How can we move past his rhetoric and maintain faith in our great nation?
In The Demagogue’s Playbook, acclaimed legal scholar Eric A. Posner offers a blueprint for how America can prevent the rise of another demagogue and protect the features of a democracy that help it thrive—and restore national greatness, for one and all.