The Ring of Populist Power

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)

About John Faithful Hamer

John Faithful Hamer is a college professor who still can't swim, drive, or pay his bills on time. His sense of direction is notoriously unreliable, yet he'd love to tell you where to go. His lack of practical skills is astounding, and his inability to fix things is renowned, yet he'd love to tell you what to do. His mismanagement of time is legendary, as is his inability to remember appointments, yet he fancies himself a philosopher and would love to tell you how to live. He wouldn't survive in a state of nature, of that we can be sure; but he's doing quite well in the big city, which has always been a refuge for the ridiculous, a haven for the helpless, and a friend to the frivolous.

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