Alexis Tocqueville

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Since its incarnation, immigrants have flocked from around the globe to the United States to experience The American Dream. It was this hopefulness the drove the country to success and turned many people from rags to riches. On his Tour de America, Alexis Tocqueville was enthralled by the America spirit and its impulse towards equality and freedom. Tocqueville believed that the US was founded upon principles that made it incompatible with the idea of an aristocracy. In his opinion, the US represented a bastion of democracy. Tocqueville warned however about the aristocracy of manufacturers and industry, believing that even in a democracy this aristocratic system could take root. The US today is vastly different from the US that Tocqueville witnessed…show more content…
The United States today is nowhere near as equal, open and free as Tocqueville once described. It is pertinent to understand that the America Tocqueville witnessed was different in its ethnic makeup. Tocqueville visited the US in 1831 and went on a nine month journey around to various states, taking note of their social and political habits (National). The United States during this time period was for the most part homogenous in regards to race and religion, usually two of the most dividing factors. Tocqueville often makes reference towards religion and its role in American society. The US had not yet had its first big wave of immigrant to come in and bring a new culture, religion and race. A quick glance at the US Census of 1830 reveals that nearly 80% of the US populous identified as “white” (US). The earlier part of the 19th century was also marked by relatively little religious conflict as most people identified as Protestant (Wong). The citizens of the United States at this time were homogenous in race and religion which made wealth the only clear difference between people. It was thus easy for Tocqueville to perceive a society where everyone was hopeful to become one of the wealthy, seeing as there was no difference physically or spiritually between the rich and the poor. Herein lies the problem when applying Tocqueville’s analysis of America in the 1830s to America today. Had Tocqueville…show more content…
Both Tocqueville and President Obama saw education is important ways to eliminate barriers amongst the classes. Yet it appears to have become a barrier itself, namely through the institution of structural poverty. In his description of what has equalized the poor and rich classes, Tocqueville cites the diffusion of education across the United States. Equal access to people regardless of their income was instrumental in allowing the poor yet intelligent youth gain equal footing in regards to the work force. However, for many students today, this equal footing is nothing but a dream. Constantly, US schools in black and latino neighborhoods have been severely understaffed and underfunded. “A quarter of high schools with the highest percentage of black and Latino students do not offer Algebra II; a third of these schools do not offer chemistry” (Heffling). Schools not offering these basic courses to their students simply due to a lac of funding significantly impacts the performance of black and latino students in the post-secondary world. In fact, nearly 51% of all public school students come from a household that is near or below the federal poverty line (Layton). Education is supposed to be one of the biggest equalizers in regards to achievement yet there already exists an inequality amongst the education received. Children from wealthier backgrounds are
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