“Democracy in America” Alexis De Tocquevilles Democracy in America delves deep into how the American States and the federal government would grow politically and socially under the umbrella of democracy. He sees the United States as a unique entity because of how and why it started as well as its geographical location. De Tocqueville explains that the foundations of the democratic process in America are completely different from anywhere else on the globe. The land was virginal and the colonies had almost complete sovereignty from England from the very beginning because they were separated by an ocean and financial troubles. The people who came to America were the oppressed and unhappy in England and all were trying to find a place where they could start anew and create a political structure that would facilitate an individual freedom unlike anything that they had previously experienced in Europe. De Tocqueville believed that the nature of democracy in the New World rested within the fact that all of the emigrants were basically from the same social strata, resulting in the first new country where there was no preliminary basis for an aristocracy. “Land is the basis of an aristocracyand [in America] when the ground was prepared, its produce was found to be insufficient to enrich a proprietor and a farmer at the same t ime(41).” He saw that even the soil of America was opposed to the structure of an aristocracy.
There were also outside influences lending unvoiced support for the creation of this new democracy. Being an ocean apart from its mother country, who at this time did not have the financial reserves to oversee its colonies, let the Americans govern themselves. If they had not had this sovereignty at the beginning America might have become something completely different than it is today, but that was not the case, so these emigrants now had a fertile place to plant their ideas of a country founded upon the many ideas of the Enlightenment. Another large influence was the lack of neighbors. America had no worries of guarding and protecting its borders because there was not anyone there who could pose a threat.
They could put all of their energies toward the creation of their democracy. This democratic nation was to have no aristocracy and only one major division between its people: the North and the South. De Tocqueville saw two very different attitudes in these regions. The North and the South had conflicting views as to how they were going to advance themselves in the economic and political arenas. But the introduction of slavery into labor was the major conflict between the two.
“Slaverydishonors labor; it introduces idleness into a society, and with idleness, ignorance and pride, luxury and distressThe influence of slavery, united to the English character, explains the manners and the social condition of the Southern States(42).” With the advent of slavery, the South was creating a class system amongst themselves that would not exist in the other regions of the States. The few Southern founders were granted huge amounts of land with which to work, and instead of diving into the land themselves like the northerners did with their smaller pieces of land. They instead bought slaves and would eventually divide the country in a nasty dispute over their handling of affairs. He realized that the majority of the influences over public policy were the men in the North. They created the first public school system that was to be readily accessible to the majority of the people.
The enlightened idea that every man should have access to knowledge was given exercise in this new nation, creating a highly learned society, but one that is not very intellectual. Schools teach specialized skills so that American can enter the work force as soon as possible, but gloss over any areas that have no value in work. Whereas in England, the few who do go on towards a higher education are actually being challenged and forced to expand their minds, higher education in America is available to many, but it is more specialized and very basic. This unlimited quantity, limited quality relationship is seem by de Tocqueville as an inherent part of a democratic society. This is because, “there is no classin which the taste for intellectual pleasures is transmitted with hereditary fortune and leisure and [wherein] intellect [is] held in honor(53).” Democracy is a facilitator of a blended society. The masses will be very similar in their thinking as well as their actions. America is a social democracy because the citizens are united by their beliefs and movements as well as their political organization and its laws. “In no country, in world does the law hold so absolute a language as it does in America; and in no country is the right of applying it vested in so many hands(63).” Americans give up the idea of complete personal freedom so that they can obtain and preserve a civil society in which they can live.
A centralized government is one that controls all interests that are common amongst the nation, whereas a centralized administration deals with the interests of a small area or community. “These two kinds of centralization mutually assist and attract each other; but they must not be supposed to be inseparable(63).” De Tocqueville sees America as having no real centralized administration but a supreme system of centralized government. This is states because America only has one legislature in each State that reigns. He sees this as a great strength as well as its weakest point. Where ever there is a government that changes power so quickly do to its “subord inat[ion] to the power of the people(65)” will be susceptible to its “vigor.” The States will be most likely torn apart by their vehemence and not apathy.
In the 1830s, many of the citizens were very interested in every turn that this budding country took in the political arena. They saw criminals as a personal affront and society shunned all who dared to break the peace. Now, with millions of people who live from the Atlantic to the Pacific, many views of American politics have changed. Instead of enthusiasm, apathy has taken over many people. Presidential elections have to most turn-outs, but those still do not have 50% turn-out rates.
Laziness has taken over present day America and the society is really hurting because of it. Crime i …