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Demagogue is a great sounding word, that unfortunately has two often contradictory meanings.
- Demagogue - Common meaning The most commonly accepted meaning of Demagogue is that of a person who appeals to the common people through the use of emotional rhetoric inflame the people to immediate ill-considered action in order to gain political power and implement policies which are not in their interest. A self-interested rabble-rouser.
- Demagogue - Archaic Meaning In it's original meaning, a Demagogue was a leader of the common people.
So now, whenever you hear some Republican or Fox News pundit call, President Obama a demagogue, you can laugh along at the inside joke. Yes, President Obama is a demagogue in the archaic sense that he's a populist leader. Yet, at the same time, the Republican or Fox News pundit calling President Obama a demagogue is a showing him/herself to be the real demagogue in the common sense of the word.