Tocqueville - "Democracy In America"

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Tocqueville's "Democracy In America" is an examination of the United State's form of democracy. His main distinction is between the actual concept of democracy, and what in fact exists in America. From the first section of our reading, "Tyranny of the Majority" it is clear that America does not have a direct democracy, where all have equal say and voting rights, but rather is ruled by the majority. He starts out by stating that "a people has a right to do whatsoever it pleases; and yet I have asserted that all authority originates in the will of the majority" (Tocqueville, page 547). This in itself is a contradiction, and illustrates very clearly his overall thoughts on American democracy: that while we think we have a democracy, we are in fact slaves to the majority. And it is all encompassing; with regards to opinion and speech, our concepts of equality and liberty, our rights to work and have property, and permeates into all forms of our government.

It is especially telling, that many of the aspects of the American majoritarian rule he describes, exist even to this day.

Majoritarian rule is clearly an incorrect fragmentation of democracy, and Tocqueville furthers the ideas of past theorists we have studied in the idea that if man can abuse power, he will: "a man possessing absolute power, may misuse that power by wronging his adversaries." He expounds this point as applying to majorities, questioning "why should a majority not be liable to the same reproach?" (Tocqueville, page 547).

Americans, according to Tocqueville, believe that we have solved the problem the influence of a certain faction taking control by splitting up our government, or by having what Tocqueville calls a "mixed government." However, a government cannot have a mixed government, with several...