Pros And Cons Of Democracy In America

Better Essays
In Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville, it talks about democracy in America and its strengths and weaknesses. Having seen the failed attempts at democratic government in his home country of France, Tocqueville wanted to study a stable and prosperous democracy to gain insights into how it worked. His studies led him to conclude that the movement toward democracy and equality of conditions‹ was a universal phenomenon and a permanent historical tendency that could not be stopped. Since this democratic trend was inevitable, Tocqueville wanted to analyze it in order to determine its strengths and dangers so that governments could be formed to reinforce democracy 's strengths while counteracting its weaknesses. Even though Democracy in America…show more content…
Furthermore, taking the work as a whole, one finds that main problems of a democracy are the following: a disproportionately high portion of power in the legislative branch, an abuse of or lack of love for freedom, an excessive drive for equality, individualism, and materialism. The elements that Tocqueville believes can most successfully combat these dangerous democratic tendencies are: an independent and influential judiciary, a strong executive branch, local self-government, administrative de-centralization, religion, well-educated women, freedom of association, and freedom of the press. Tocqueville directly applies this newfound thesis to American democracy and explains how this situation can affect the United States. He references this thesis in talking about the pros and cons to American democracy, specifically the dangers and benefits of the…show more content…
Fortunately, however, Tocqueville does recognize the existence of institutions which can help to preserve liberty even in these various dangers. Constitutionally, the independent judiciary, with the power of judicial review, is extremely important. Because it can proclaim certain laws unconstitutional, the Supreme Court provides practically the only check on the tyranny of the majority. Judges are appointed, not elected, and they serve life terms, giving them a great deal of independence to make the decisions that they think best without needing to worry excessively about public opinion. A related beneficial institution in the American system is the jury. While juries may not always be the best means of attaining justice, they serve a very positive political function of forcing the citizens to think about other people 's affairs and educating them in the use of their freedom. For these reasons, Tocqueville believes that the jury system is one of the most effective means of popular education. Much like the jury system, the administrative decentralization which allows for local self-government is crucial as a means to keep liberty alive by allowing the citizens to exercise it frequently. The existence of local liberties is one of the most significant differences between America and France. Tocqueville attributes the failure of the French Revolution mainly to the overwhelming administrative centralization which took away the citizens ' ability to exercise their freedom,
Get Access