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Column One

He saw it coming

By Paul Greenberg

This article was published October 4, 2015 at 3:21 a.m.

The concept of Soft Tyranny is as old as Democracy in America--the two-volume guide to all things American that Alexis de Tocqueville wrote after he toured this country back in the Jacksonian era. And whose insights remain fresh.

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JakeTidmore says... October 4, 2015 at 6:05 a.m.

Vague and vacuous assumptions. As I posted yesterday with Dana Kelley's piece, de Tocqueville thought America would never rise above being an agrarian nation. He had no concept of what would become in the future and got most of his predictions wrong. Also remember that he was writing about an America that was ruled by white males. Sorry, Paul, but this is going to get a D. You didn't really do your homework and you offer no evidence for the de Tocqueville comments or assertions. This is nothing more than an Obama hit piece - shabby journalism done on the cheap.
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Rather than repeat all the postings from de Tocqueville and those writing about him, I leave it up to you good reader to find the link to Kelley's last column and read them for yourselves, if you're so inclined.

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23cal says... October 4, 2015 at 6:15 a.m.

Well said, Jake. This tired old hack desperately needs to be put out to pasture.

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JakeTidmore says... October 4, 2015 at 10:11 a.m.

Sometimes, I think some of his articles come from the horse pasture when you judge them by their content.

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WhododueDiligence says... October 4, 2015 at 10:59 a.m.

Tocqueville had much to say about America and Americans, and much of it had predictive value. However, Tocqueville quotes can, and often are, used to support opposite arguments on the political left and right. Both sides are fairly safe in their claims since Tocqueville is not here to tell us which arguments, if any, he prefers. Tocqueville was appalled by American treatment of prisoners, blacks, and Native Americans. He correctly predicted the American Civil War, but wrote in terms of American "absolute social equality", failing to recognize or predict American social hierarchy and concentrations of wealth.
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However, Tocqueville issued this warning:
"What is most important for a democracy is not that great fortunes should not exist, but that great fortunes should not remain in the same hands. In that way there are rich men but they do not form a class."

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WhododueDiligence says... October 4, 2015 at 11:09 a.m.

In a letter to his mother, Tocqueville had this to say about Americans (source: historian H.W. Brand in his Washington Post book review of Leo Damrosch's book "Tocqueville's Discovery of America"):
"The people here seem to be stinking with national conceit. They harass you continually to force you to praise them, and if you resist all their attempts, they praise themselves."
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What are we to make of Tocqueville's prescience regarding this quote? We might choose to just take this little nugget with a grain of salt and sweep it back under the rug.

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bmitchellrph06181757 says... October 4, 2015 at 12:30 p.m.

Our national conceipt might well have allowed the actual perpetrators to get away with the attack on September Eleventh. More than 99% of us are simply unwilling to even suspect our 'leaders' of anything 'anti-American'. Thus we weaken...

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Lifelonglearner says... October 4, 2015 at 2:21 p.m.

Agreed, JakeT. Just as the rapid America love it or leave it types have said that anyone more liberal than them should relocate to a communist or socialist country, those who desire very limited government should relocate to one of those third world countries with a corrupt, weak governments, no restrictions on gun ownership or any meaningful regulation of business.

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kdc72701 says... October 4, 2015 at 2:50 p.m.

Greenberg? Taking a cheap shot at Obama with misleading prose? I am shocked, shocked to hear the accusation being made.

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cliffcarson says... October 4, 2015 at 3:12 p.m.

I too would be shocked that an intelligent person could have written this piece. Then I noticed that it was Greenberg. How I asked myself could a learned man like Greenberg have written this?

Then it came to me - Of course, Greenberg is the consummate Republican. That explains the departure from reality. He drank the Kool Aid.

Dear Mr. Greenberg,
Alexis de Tocqueville also penned this phrase: "America is Great because America is Good, If America ever ceases to be Good, America will cease to be Great."

Incrementally, America is ceasing to be Good, and the other follows - America is Incrementally ceasing to be Great.

Greenberg, why not spend your time on telling us why ALEC is good for any Americans other than the 1% You know, that Organization of Elected State Republicans, Lobbyists, and Corporate Representatives, who conspire to re-write American Laws to favor Corporate Interests above American citizen interests? In business since Reagan they have vastly shaped, to the regular citizens detriment, the Law of the Land. We are slowly losing our freedoms and rights due to this Republican Organization.

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carpenterretired says... October 4, 2015 at 6:24 p.m.

True the Patriot Act was a step toward tyranny but it was passed by George W. Bush - Cheney ,GOP to great cheers by ring wing conservatives who also rejoiced over Bush-Cheney attack and colonization of Iraq to avenge 9/11 (true there was all that Iraq oil) ,but 9/11 was carried out by 18 Saudis and one Egyptian paid for with Saudi money. Greenberg was shoveling the same nigh constant horse effluent well before being put out to pasture as now and it still smells like old time barn yard.

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