May 16, 2017

Tocqueville's Prediction

Kevin's comment on my previous post about Cleveland wanting to secede from Ohio reminds me of something from the book The Complacent Class I read recently, concerning how Tocqueville didn't think the union would hold:
Tocqueville said he refused “to believe in the duration of a government which is called upon to hold together so many distinct and not equally powerful states covering an area half that of Europe.”...
What Tocqueville did not see was that extreme federal stasis was an alternative to federal dissolution. If what the federal government does simply cannot change very much, then all those states and all those diverse and numerous people can’t have a destructive fight over the content of policy, and, thus, for that reason among others, the republic will not collapse. That gridlock may be depressing in some ways, but it has kept America going for some number of decades in recent times. 
Stable is better than unstable, for the most part, but that doesn’t mean we are going to be very pleased by the choices American democracy will put before us…Tocqueville understood that America would one day be overtaken by a version of democracy mixed with stasis and that such a future world would cease to inspire us politically. 
Yes, count me not inspired by politics these days.

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