de Toqueville Explains the Most Recent Election

Alexis de Toqueville was, much like Ayn Rand regarding the march of modern socialism, eerily prescient in his observations of the experiment that is the United States. A few items extracted from a treasure trove of quotes that explain the most recent election.

The results:

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury.1

The voters:

It is indeed difficult to imagine how men who have entirely renounced the habit of managing their own affairs could be successful in choosing those who ought to lead them.2

The feeling many conservatives, fiscal or social, have about the future:

Tyranny in democratic republics does not proceed in the same way, however. It ignores the body and goes straight for the soul. The master no longer says: You will think as I do or die. He says: You are free not to think as I do. You may keep your life, your property, and everything else. But from this day forth you shall be as a stranger among us. You will retain your civic privileges, but they will be of no use to you. For if you seek the votes of your fellow citizens, they will withhold them, and if you seek only their esteem, they will feign to refuse even that. You will remain among men, but you will forfeit your rights to humanity. When you approach your fellow creatures, they will shun you as one who is impure. And even those who believe in your innocence will abandon you, lest they, too, be shunned in turn. Go in peace, I will not take your life, but the life I leave you with is worse than death.

Footnotes below the fold.

  1. Quote continues: “From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.”
  2. Quote continues: “It is impossible to believe that a liberal, energetic, and wise government can ever emerge from the ballots of a nation of servants”
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