Drafting a Philosopher King

My fellow ChicagoNow blogger, Jack Spatafora, in his post entitled "Backstage---Where the Real Show Goes On", says that in America today we're left with two choices for president: a demagogue or a philosopher king.  Jack doesn't see a philosopher king on the horizon. But if one did materialize, he, of course, would probably  have to drop the scepter from his resume.  Unless---according to Article I Section 9---Congress would consent to let him carry the baggage into a campaign. Be that as it may, the philosopher king would face insurmountable hurdles.  Such as running without the billions of dollars of campaign funding from Wall Street and friends.   What philosopher king would allow filthy lucre to cloud his noble judgments? Then there are the special interests and the lobbyists.  The philosopher king would be above their undermining machinations.  Moreover, picture the philosopher king using the Socratic Method during a presidential debate.  Not something that would translate well into sound bites.  In Iowa, the philosopher king would absolutely find a Waterloo.

So that leaves us with the demagogue.  My  Webster has two definitions for 'demagogue'.   We usually take it in a negative sense: "a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power".   Whatever your political ideology, I'm sure you can name your favorite standard-bearer for this kind of demagogue.  I myself don't have to look further than the last Republican debate to find masters of the trade.

But in ancient times, a demagogue had a better image.  He was "a leader championing the cause of the common people".   Just the kind of demagogue we need at this critical time in America's  history.


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  • Aquinas ~ What you say about a Philosopher King is probably all true. Which only makes me wish for one all the more. But as for your take on a demagogue, I don't know if your definition is the same as mine. However,I would sure like to see Obama unchained enough from his obstructionist rivals so he could really start "championing those causes" that I think he believes in.

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