As Lincoln well knew, politicians can appeal to the better angels of our nature or they can appeal to what is ugly in us. It’s a temptation every political movement faces: to what extent are we willing to flirt with the dark side—tap into its power—for the greater good of our cause? Sooner or later, every politician, and almost every activist, comes to the conclusion that they can get away with this Faustian bargain, that they will succeed where most have failed. Some do. Most do not. Because, as Tolkien makes clear, when you slip on that ring of power, it soon owns you far more than you own it. Trump put on the ring of populist power awhile ago. Will it end up owning him? Only time will tell.
—John Faithful Hamer, Being a Philosopher in Social Media Land (2017)