In the mid 1800s, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote his novel Democracy in America. This work was an extensive study of American democracy. In his novel, Tocqueville discusses the advantages and disadvantages of such a government in his own collection of thoughts and ideas. Many readers have found his analysis of democracy startling. To Tocqueville, this novel was one step to a more free society. .
As Tocqueville sees it, there are many dangers facing American democracy, mostly lying in societal attitudes and tendencies. One problem that Tocqueville sees with the organization of America is the direct election of representatives and the short duration of their time in office. This is a danger compared to the Senate, whose members are elected indirectly and serve longer terms in office.
In Tocqueville’s eyes, another danger facing American democracy is the excessive love and need for equality. He believed that if all were equal, then no one person had any basis to claim the right to rule over another. In this system, the only just way to run a society is to base decisions on the will of the majority. The problem with this idea is that it can lead to despotism. The conclusion is that the opinion of the majority must be the best one, and as a result, there is a tendency to abandon freedom of thought in democratic societies. To Tocquecille, two other side effects of equality are individualism and materialism. Tocqueville points out that individualism threatens to grow out as conditions get more equal. Individualism can also contribute to the growth of despotism because if citizens become too individualistic, they won’t bother to exercise their freedom. Materialism also results from a passion for equality because people think that they ought to be able to have as much wealth as everyone else. The effect of materialism is people may be so absorbed in their personal pursuit of wealth that they neglect to use their political freedom.