Demagogues resort to the use fear and mob psychology to bully and intimidate, while the wise use reason and logic to persuade.
Indeed demagogues create, popularize and then use prejudices to demonize to gain power from those they target. They depict the country as being in deep crisis from which it may never recover unless regime change occurs.
In this dialogue specifics are in very short supply, depending mainly on generalities.
Demagoguery has thus become a strategy of choice as we gravitate towards the August Presidential and general elections. There is a gratuitous flow and surfeit of wild promises and false claims to persuade the electorate.
That is why the voices of reason from Mwine Lubemba Chitimukulu and former President Rupiah Banda make sense and resonate to the moment.
The Chitimukulu has called on the media to be factual, principled and above all fair and even handed in their reporting to avoid inflaming the nation into conflict as anarchy.
Similarly former President Rupiah Banda who has proceeded to monitor elections in Uganda has promised to meet with MMD President Nevers Mumba to seek a solution to the seemingly intractable problems confronting the former ruling party.
These are voices of reason that distinguish between the passion of the moment as represented by elections and the long term imperatives of nationhood. They realize that elections are an event, a passing phase that always gives way to realities and subsequent disillusionment.
We are the first ones to agree with Mwinelubemba that the media is very polarized, dangerously so because all ethics have been thrown to the wind in pursuit of political ends. Hearsay, innuendo and absolute fabrications are passed for fact regardless of the injury caused.
Paradoxically truth, sometimes contained in official documents is vilified for lies and innuendo in order to protect the errant parties. This is done with the intention of purposely misleading.
This has given rise to a very dangerous political perversity that glorifies falsehood while condoning totally irrational and illogical conduct, such as individuals belonging to two parties at the same time. This phenomenon is ascribed to political astuteness and yet it is clearly untenable, especially is party membership means anything.
Demagogues have always been a danger to society because they divide the people and undermine the social fabric built on mutual respect. They are a danger to democracy because they divert attention from real issues to discussing personal foibles, real or otherwise.
By pandering to the emotions and fears of the public demagogues stir emotions among the majority of the people who do not have the capacity to analyze and verify information that is often passed for truth when it is nowhere near the reality.
By its very nature democracy demands that diversity is subjected to deliberation and scrutiny to arrive as a truth that serves the common good.
On the other hand demagoguery thrives on populism that in turn feeds on prejudices. That is why allegations of plunder, corruption and theft make for very ready fodder in an empty and vacuous political campaign.