Federalist Tocqueville Analysis

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Neither Tocqueville nor the authors of the Federalist Papers view an enlightened and virtuous citizenry as wholly essential to the Constitutional system, but while the federalists build institutions to defend the government against the self-interested passions of the people, Tocqueville sees the greatest benefits of the American political system where the government and the people meet: in the township and in political associations. The Federalists believe that the core of the Constitution system’s success lies in its institutions rather than the people. Their writings repeatedly show doubt in the abilities of the public to govern, construct institutions to defend against their involvement, limiting their civic duties to elections. Tocqueville, …show more content…
The Federalists’ attempt to stifle the volatile passions of the public in the federal institutions is an example which will no doubt soon find its way into states, counties, and townships. The constitutional doctrine of placing faith in structures rather than people will result in a mass erosion of citizens’ power. Tocqueville explains this saying, “left to themselves, the institutions of the township can scarcely struggle against an enterprising and strong government…it is easy to destroy it” (Tocqueville, 56). But while the constitutional system makes for good government it does not make for good citizens. Had the Federalists kept the people “strong and independent, they fear partitioning social power and exposing the state to anarchy. Now, remove force and independence from the [people], and you will always find only those under its administration and no citizens” (Tocqueville, 64). Tocqueville argues that the passion and civic involvement of the citizens, though perhaps unenlightened, provides a necessary ingredient for any free republic. The clearest example of the benefits civic engagement brings is in the township, a governing structure where “as everywhere, the people are the source of social powers, but nowhere do they exercise their power more immediately” (Tocqueville, 59). The township’s embrace of the citizens ' passions and trust in the people to govern their own affairs creates a remarkable change within the public. In the township, where citizen learn to direct society, their natural “desire for esteem, the need of real interest, the taste for power and for attention, come to be concentrated; these passions, which so often trouble Society, change character when they can be expressed so near the domestic heart and in a way in the bosom of the family” (Tocqueville, 64). Ordinary

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