In a previous century, a country in Europe was in disarray economically, socially, and politically, following a devastating war. During a political campaign, one of the candidates described how he could bring greatness back to the country. He promised an economic miracle for the people; he dealt in demagogic diatribes against minorities among the citizenry. He was elected by a landslide, created a military brutal to the weak and strong in ideology, and made overt efforts to destroy those who were not of the proper heritage. He ultimately broke with some allies, gathered a satellite ally who mimicked his tactics. The consequences were horrific: one particular part of the populace suffered deaths in the millions simply for having a different racial makeup. Eventually much of the world was embroiled in a catastrophic war whose effects even to this day bear scars and unhealed wounds. All of this can be traced in large part to a demagogue who desired to rule the entire world. He failed. His personal history ended when he ended his own life.
Demagogues vary in different eras, but remain dangerous because of their ability to employ the worst in human nature to create more power for them. They use the weaknesses in society to gain strength for themselves. We can learn lessons from history that will prevent repetitions of such a magnitude of horror. Are we listening?