Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Who Will Be Our Next Demagogue?

Another good history lesson from Gawker. I won't spoil the surprise by posting their candidates - click on the link to see how they rate the contenders...

Every economic apocalypse needs a good crypto-fascist representative of the working man to drum up popular outrage. Last time around, it was Father Charles Coughlin. Who's going to answer the call now?

Coughlin was a Catholic priest whose CBS radio show reached an estimated third of the country during the Great Depression. He initially supported the New Deal, but his admiration for Roosevelt quickly curdled into rank anti-Semitism and kill-all-the-bankers rage. He was among the first to use the emerging mass media to build up his audience into his own political constituency, a power that he used to talk up Hitler and Mussolini, uncover various Jewish conspiracies, and inveigh against Wall Street.

The current climate cries out for a similar media figure to focus and control our Bailout Rage. He or she could come from any medium—radio, television, the web—and any political stripe. From the left, an anti-capitalist ranter could rise to greatness by relentlessly attack the privileged elites who got us into this mess; from the right, a bilious Real American could stand athwart Obama and shout "lynch!"

So who will it be? Here are the candidates, and their odds of reaching Coughlin's heights :

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