As the de Tocqueville quotes below show, he was more prescient than most of us want to admit…
As one digs deeper into the national character of the Americans, one sees that they have sought the value of everything in this world only in the answer to this single question: how much money will it bring in?
In America the majority raises formidable barriers around the liberty of opinion; within these barriers an author may write what he pleases, but woe to him if he goes beyond them.
The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.
Let’s break those three quotes down for you.
The first quote speaks to our nation’s commerce/property/wealth oriented ideology. Tempered by a nation of self-regulating individuals of character, there isn’t much of a downside to that ideology.
However, the untrammeled greed of corporations, people, unions, and government, unfettered by a self-regulating people, can be dangerous, as we are now seeing.
The second quote might as well be called a broad definition of “political correctness,” which has narrowed in the last few decades. This conformity makes it harder to critique bad policy, as well as bad people. On the blogs we have unfettered flame wars, but in serious policy discussions, we can’t discuss solutions that break the cycle of greed and corruption. The powerful financial interests won’t have it.
That last quote, combined with the first two, indicates just how much danger we are in. This great nation has been engaged in the extreme moral hazard of rent-seeking, and has become morally flabby in the process. Congress and the President (not to mention EVERYBODY in Springfield) are engaged in financial debauchery, and everyone wants in for the ride, given that they no longer feel they can tame the beast.
I’m not an American “declinist.” I think we can turn it around. But it won’t be easy. We look more like like Rome than I’m comfortable with.