I’ve been re-reading bits of Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America over this Christmas break and thought I’d share this quote today.  I read it as we awaited the Christmas Eve passing of the Senate healthcare reform bill.   As the bill continues its march to President Obama’s desk, despite Americans’ disgust and disapproval, it’s a good quote to consider.

[de Tocqueville was a Frenchman who came to America in 1831 to observe and evaluate democracy in practice.  He remained in the United States for a mere 9 months, but his astute observations make his work one-of-a-kind.  You will probably hear me reference this work again in a future blog post.  On the whole, he liked the system and defended Americans — I especially like the chapter, “The Example of the Americans Does Not Prove That a Democratic People Can Have No Aptitude and No Taste for Science, Literature, or Art” … although I don’t know what he would say today.]

The quote of the day does not actually come for de Tocqueville himself, but from Thomas Jefferson, whom he quotes in his chapter on the danger of the tyranny of the majority and its consequences.

“The executive power in our government is not the only, perhaps not even the principal, object of my solicitude.  The tyranny of the legislature is really the danger most to be feared, and will continue to be so for many years to come.”

What would Mr. Jefferson say today?

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