Tocqueville and Democracy in Action


Around here we talk a fair amount about Tocqueville and his view of early America. He was an honest, sympathetic observer who saw both the good and bad, He also was a very good writer.  Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry wrote an article yesterday on The Federalist that struck me as valuable. He is stressing the importance in the American system of the localness of government. Here are some excerpts


Tocqueville is adamant: local government is absolutely key to democracy in America. It’s what makes it work. For a whole chapter, he marvels at the extent of self-governance in the townships of New England, looking at them as the model of local self-government.

For Tocqueville, this isn’t idle social analysis: he makes very clear that looking at how local government works in America explains how all democracy works in America. As we’ll see, the picture he draws of American local government is different…

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