Summary Of Democracy In America By Alexis De Tocqueville

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I was shocked when I read Democracy in America, written by Alexis De Tocqueville and published by Signet Classic. Tocqueville predicted so many of the problems that the American government has had. Yet we could not detect any of these problems ourselves. He sensed that the country was heading toward civil war and that majority rule would result in extreme intolerance of controversial ideas. In some ways, his predictions were so accurate that I found them to be uncanny. However, he lost some credibility with me when he said our “principle instrument was freedom.”(pg. 20) I quickly listed multiple areas in which we did not use freedom in our expansion endeavors. While I agree with many of Tocqueville’s predictions about democracy, I disagree…show more content…
He came to America to study democracy. and he landed on our shores as it was finally starting to take root. Page 10 of the book says, “And the roaring mobs that pushed and fought their way into Andrew Jackson’s inaugural reception, that knocked over punch bowls, smashed glasses, and trod in muddy boots on White House tables and chairs, made it abundantly clear that at long last equality had become the hallmark of American life.” This chaos had to have been an appalling sight to a man that had been raised a member of the French aristocracy and was used to the minority having all of the power and control. What he found here was majority rule, and at the time we seemed to think it was perfect. But Tocqueville had the insight needed to realize that our paradise was going to be destroyed. He had lived through the French Revolution and had seen an aunt beheaded in the name of “Liberty, Fraternity, and Equality.” The atrocities committed in the name of equality would be enough to make any man suspicious of majority rule, and I do believe that his experiences colored his opinions of American…show more content…
Everyone has to agree on everything. If they don’t, then the black sheep is shunned by everyone else. Tocqueville knew this was going to happen. On page 20 he writes “But once the majority has made up its mind, then all contrary thought must cease, and all controversy must be abandoned, not at the risk of death or physical punishment, but rather at a more subtle and intolerant pain of ostracism, of being shunned by one’s fellows, of being rejected by society.” Somehow, he knew that once democracy began to grow into the uncontrollable creature it is today, the majority would become single minded. By this, I mean that the governing train of thought in America is that everyone must have theories or opinions that conform to the majority’s viewpoint. Americans, then and now, take “pride in their sameness” (pg. 20). Is it any wonder that when someone with radical ideas, that might actually work, comes onto the scene that we try to make him look like a fool so no one will listen to him? This overwhelming ideal of “tolerance”, as we have taken to calling it, has lead to the spread of political correctness. Because saying something that rubs against the grain is uncomfortable for the speaker and the audience, political correctness was developed as a way to feel better about our conformity. In essence, we can neglect to speak the truth by shrouding it in a mantle that appeases the ideals established by
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