Remember it was the French diplomat and political scientist Alexis de Tocqueville who first extolled the vibrancy of America’s civil society in his two-volume Democracy in America (1835 and 1840). Forty-six years later the French people affirmed de Tocqueville when they gifted America with the Statue of Liberty (dedicated October 28, 1886).
In other words, it wasn’t us blowing our own horn, rather an outsider who saw in us something new and laudatory within the family of nations.
Historically, what made America so appealing is the same thing that made Babe Ruth so appealing. We were big and strong, but fun-loving, good-natured, and out-going, too, and maybe, endearingly, a little naive. Though originally blind to the damage done by our slave-owning past and roughshod Manifest Destiny striving, overall, America was a smile and a clap on the back, a nation less cynical than the older European societies that preceded us. And within that spirit was a readiness to lend a hand to those in need, another reflexive, Ruthian trait.
We didn’t play up our size or our might. Instead, we were ‘aw-shucks’ humble in our strength, embracing in our openness, and generous in our spirit.
What happened to that America? Continue reading “LEARNING FROM de TOCQUEVILLE IN 2020”