Democracy in america tocqueville essays

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One truth, at least, we think, sufficiently manifest. The Tory writers have said, and said truly, that tranquillity and prosperity, in a country placed in the peculiar physical circumstances of America, proves little for the safety of democratic institutions among the crowded population, the innumerable complications and causes of dissatisfaction, which exist in older countries. Had they stopped there, every rational person would have been of their opinion. But when they proceed to argue as if the experiment of democracy had been tried in America under circumstances wholly favourable, they are totally mistaken. America is, in many important points, nearly the most unfavourable field in which democracy could have been tried. With regard, indeed, to the vulgar apprehensions which haunt vulgar minds, of agrarian laws, and schemes of sweeping confiscation, the circumstances of the experiment are undoubtedly as favourable as could be desired. But these are the fears only of those to whom is terrible. In everything which concerns the influences of democracy on intellect and social life, its virtues could nowhere be put upon a harder trial than in America; for no civilized country is placed in circumstances tending more to produce mediocrity in the one, or dullness and inelegance in the other. Everything in the position of America tends to foster the spirit of trade, the passion of money-getting, and that almost alone.

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M. de Tocqueville considers a democratic state of society as eminently tending to give the strongest impulse to the physical well-being. He ascribes this, not so much to the equality of conditions as to their mobility. In a country like America every one may acquire riches; no one, at least, is artificially impeded in acquiring them; and hardly any one is born to them. Now, these are the conditions under which the passions which attach themselves to wealth, and to what wealth can purchase, are the strongest. Those who are born in the midst of affluence are generally more or less to its enjoyments. They take the comfort or luxury to which they have always been accustomed, as they do the air they is not but An aristocracy, when put to the proof, has in general shown wonderful facility in enduring the loss of riches and of physical comforts. The very pride, nourished by the elevation which they owed to wealth, supports them under the privation of it. But to those who have chased riches laboriously for half their lives, to lose it is the loss of all; a disappointment greater than can be endured. In a democracy, again, there is no contented poverty. No one being forced to remain poor; many who were poor daily becoming rich, and the comforts of life being apparently within the reach of all, the desire to appropriate them descends to the very lowest rank. Thus,

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We are disposed partially to agree in this opinion. Universal suffrage is never likely to exist where the majority are and we are not unwilling to believe that a labouring class in abject poverty, like part of our rural population, or which expends its surplus earnings in gin or in waste, like so much of the better paid population of the towns, may be kept politically in subjection, and that the middle classes are safe from the permanent rule of such a body, though perhaps not from its Swing outrages, or Wat Tyler insurrections. But this admission leaves the fact of a tendency towards democracy practically untouched. There is a democracy short of pauper suffrage; the working classes themselves contain a middle as well as a lowest class. Not to meddle with the whether the lowest class is or is not improving in condition, it is certain that a larger and larger body of manual labourers are rising above that class, and acquiring at once decent wages and decent habits of conduct. A rapidly increasing multitude of our working people are becoming, in point of condition and habits, what the American working people are. And if our boasted improvements are of any worth, there must be a growing tendency in society and government to make this condition of the labouring classes the general one. The nation must be most slenderly supplied with wisdom and virtue, if it cannot do something to improve its own physical condition, to say nothing of its moral. It is something gained, that well-meaning persons of all parties now at length profess to have this end in view. But in proportion as it is approached to—in proportion as the working class becomes, what all proclaim their desire that it should be—well paid, well taught, and well conducted; in the same proportion will the opinions of that class tell, according to its numbers, upon the affairs of the country. Whatever portion of the class succeeds in thus raising itself, becomes a part of the ruling body; and if the suffrage be necessary to make it so, it will not be long without the suffrage.

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So without a high level of participation in government and/or politics by most Americans does this democracy still work? The answer to that is a resounding yes. Remember democracy in the United States is not like anywhere else in the world. For instance, how elections are conducted for Congress in alternating years with the Presidency. Again, this system was created by design by the Founding Fathers. Yes, it certainly has its share of problems and issues people would love to see repaired such as the electoral college, but overall how can anyone say American democracy is not a success? The United States is the oldest living version of democracy and became a world super power after World War II. It has the top rated economy on this planet and the most military might. True there are some qualities lacking in education and health care, but overall, the United States has been one of the greatest civilizations the world has ever seen. It’s stability as well as its prosperity is based upon the democratic foundation on which this nation was created. Scholars, international politics and the like can pick away at what is wrong with American democracy and if the system is really working in this country, but they cannot find fault with how powerful the United States is and why. That is because despite Americans lack of interest in politics it’s democracy works and works very well!

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Although wary about changes in the franchise, Mill supported many reforms in political machinery in harmony with orthodox Philosophic Radicalism: the secret ballot, triennial parliaments, publicity for parliamentary proceedings, payment of members and their professionalization, reduction in the size of the House of Commons to render it more efficient, and the creation of strong local government which he assumed would reduce the burdens of the national parliament. He also proposed a radical change in the House of Lords to destroy it as a rigid barrier to reforms fashioned in the Commons. He would abolish its hereditary principle and select its membership from the lower house. By such changes he hoped to transform Britain’s government from an aristocracy into a special kind of democracy led by an enlightened few.