The question always comes up this time of year and invariably catches me unprepared when, for example, someone walks up to me at the bail bondsman’s office or after a group therapy session and asks: “What do you get a demagogue for Christmas?”

I’ve been flummoxed so many times by this holiday standard that I decided to be prepared this year with a quick answer. I set out to make a gift list but soon realized I did not have a good grasp of what a demagogue really is. I do have a solid handle on words like senator, liar, judicial and bloviate but if you had asked me to precisely define demagogue, kumquat or oligarchy I would have had to take a pass or reach for my handy dictionary to sharpen my understanding of the word.

Of course, I cannot find my dictionary. I have not seen it in 15 years. We are living in a post-dictionary society. Young people do not even know what alphabetical order is. I know they don’t know how to read or write cursive or how to use a rotary telephone and yet they get frustrated with me when I don’t know all the lyrics to the Sponge Bob Square Pants theme song. For the record, I do know all the lyrics but occasionally I need time to put them all in the right order.

Back to the point, I got online, searched for the definition of demagogue and found it very interesting indeed. The official Wikipedia definition:

“A demagogue or rabble-rouser is a leader in a democracy who gains popularity by exploiting prejudice and ignorance among the common people, whipping up the passions of the crowd and shutting down reasoned deliberation. Demagogues overturn established customs of political conduct, or promise or threaten to do so.… Demagogues usually advocate immediate, forceful action to address a national crisis while accusing moderate and thoughtful opponents of weakness or disloyalty.”

It never fails to astound me that there already are established words, this one originating in the 1600s, to describe behaviors which we may have not before witnessed or with which we are unfamiliar.

Now that we all understand what defines a demagogue, it should be easy to recognize them in our circles of friends, acquaintances, farm animals and politicians. And, once you peg them for what they really are, it should be easy to get them a holiday gift that they will cherish and may even curry favor when the whip comes down and people start disappearing.

Here are a few suggestions for your demagogue shopping list:

Torches and Pitchforks Kit. All rabble-rousers need a mob. Some mobs are better equipped than others so why take a chance? Each kit will equip a dozen individuals to catalyze a disorderly crowd to help bring down the rule of law. A surefire hit on Christmas Day.

Professional Size Megaphone. Any throng of people will naturally listen to the loudest voice. Truth or lies, a megaphone or, more accurately, a “bullhorn” will not only get the message to everyone’s ears but also down their throats. Don’t forget the batteries.

Large Wall Mirror. Granted, not all demagogues are narcissists, but everyone can benefit from a good, long look in the mirror. Additionally, it’s ideal for practicing oratory skills including speeches promising the impossible or accusing opponents of disloyalty and weakness. There is no better tool to review the best poses for delivering personal insults and ridicule.

Fire Extinguisher and Lighter Matching Gift Set. The extinguisher is for dousing the flames anytime someone has the audacity to set fire to the flag, while the lighter is for setting fire to the Constitution in case the opportunity ever presents itself.

When the imagination fails and you come up blank, you can always fall back to the classic gift for any demagogue: a soapbox. Or, if you want to put a stylistic bend to an old standard, instead of a soapbox you might go with platform shoes.

If you need a card to go with the gift, surely your favorite mega store or M.A.G.A. store should have the ideal card in the Demagogue Christmas card section. It’s usually right there between Charlatans and Dictators.

Hurry. Christmas is almost here and, realize it or not, time is running out.