Alexis de Tocqueville captured the essence of what made America America and shared it with the world in 1835. His Democracy in America affirmed the belief that the United States was the most advanced example of democracy in action.
For decades, in our public secondary schools, Democracy in America was required reading. No longer is that so. But what was a powerful snapshot of American exceptionalism then can provide a meaningful yardstick for measuring what America might become if we lose the values that made us great.
Alexis admired American individualism where citizens were prodded into taking greater responsibility for how, when, and why they act as they do. He also noted that democracies encourage people’s suspicions of power in the hands of government. As a result, he cautioned that the result of our democratic experiment could eventually be a democratic “tyranny of the majority” in which America’s treasured individual rights could be compromised.
De Tocqueville hated democratic revolution; he lived through that in France. He argued that the drive for equality would produce violence and tyranny when divorced from the customs of values developed in a vibrant local community. He marveled at the “habits of the heart” formed in American townships throughout the country.
He recognized that the separation of church and state was a valuable safeguard for America. He observed that religion played a dominant role in shaping people’s customs, habits, and core values. It helped form good character and citizens capable of ruling themselves without having to be ruled by kings or dictators. The Golden Rule wasn’t law; it was our culture.
He writes in Democracy in America: “The free institutions of the United States and the political rights enjoyed there provide a thousand continual reminders to every citizen that he lives in society. At every moment they bring his mind back to this idea, that it is the duty a well as the interest of men to be useful to their fellows. Having no particular reason to hate others, since he is neither their slave nor their master, the American’s heart easily inclines toward benevolence.”
He went on to share the critical importance of local self-rule, “Local institutions are to liberty what primary schools are to science; they put it within the people’s reach; they teach people to appreciate its peaceful enjoyment and accustom them to make use of it.”
In America today, COVID-19 has isolated more and more of us to our homes. Local community institutions, churches and synagogues are put on hold or limited to online connection. Many of our local charities are struggling to find ways to assist those in need in the midst of lockdowns. We watch violence and looting on our TVs, and we wonder what is happening to our communities and our country.
Now, in the midst of this challenge, we face one of the most pivotal elections in decades. Do we stay with a president who promised to “Make America Great Again” or do we go with a candidate who now promises to “transform America?”
President Trump spent three years delivering on his promises—lowering taxes, cutting regulations, building a border wall, stimulating economic growth, creating jobs, cutting unemployment, and supporting more individual freedom. But that progress has been interrupted after months of lockdown and a COVID crisis. Even though the economy is improving and a recent Gallup poll indicated that 56% of registered voters say they are better off now than before Trump became president, it’s still clear that many Americans have lost jobs and businesses during the recent crisis. Trump has promised a return to prosperity and added school choice as a new focus. But can he deliver on his promises again?
Vice President Joe Biden, has promised to immediately raise taxes on the rich, make college free for low-income Americans, make Medicare available for all, eliminate student debt, raise the minimum wage, and the list goes on. Is that the America you want to support?
Our Founding Fathers and adventurous pioneers who labored to create this Bastian of freedom would want nothing to do with more dependence on government. No, they just wanted the challenge and the opportunity to become rich themselves—to secure their own “American Dream.”
We’ve had over two centuries of American patriots who treasured freedom and nurtured a can-do spirit, a faith in their God, their country, and themselves. They conquered fear and turned wilderness and prairies into homes and businesses. They valued self-reliance and community. They took care of their own extended families and created charities to take care of those who had no one to take care of themselves.
It’s time to reelect Donald Trump and let citizens get busy reclaiming what has made us great. End the lockdowns. Let our entrepreneurs who have lost their businesses get busy rebuilding new ones, hiring workers, giving to local charities and those in need, and together bringing America back.
True optimism comes from a track record of overcoming obstacles. America’s story is filled with such optimism earned in the crucible of the tough times. It’s time we reclaim that optimism and elect a president who truly believes we do not need big government to save us. President Trump knows that we just need to believe in ourselves.
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