Unconsciously Proving Tocqueville Right

Alexis de Tocqueville made many predictions and observations about the state and future of the United States in Democracy in America, and many of these observations and predictions were wrong or poorly reflected the true nature of America (having only 9 months to observe the nation was not enough to capture the reality of early 19th century America). Tocqueville also made bold statements and professed truths that had little evidence, a criticism rendered upon him by Mill. But these shortcomings did not stop Tocqueville from stating something that the United States could not help by try and prove to right: the black Americans and the white Americans would not be able to exist unless fully integrated or fully segregated.

The first time America proved this statement correct was in the lead up to and conclusion of the Civil War. A contentious debate over slavery (along with other factors) lead to Americans killing other Americans, family versus family because at the end of the day, a just and peaceful America could not exist when one race, a majority, tyrannized and made unequal another race, a minority. was-the-civil-war-inevitableThis instance of a country going to war with itself begins to show that Tocqueville being proven correct by Americans and that society needed to completely blend or be segregated, possibly equal but separate which leads to the second time America proves Tocqueville right: Jim Crow and segregation.

After the Civil War, former states were slavery was allowed had a bit of a problem. The white majority did not want to deal with the new freedoms of the black minority. Laws were put in place to separate whites and blacks with the thinking that if black citizens had separate but equal schools, housing, stores, and drinking fountains they would be able to live happy separate lives. While this flawed sense of thought proves Tocqueville’s point about living separately, true separation never occurred. Segregation in the south meant not only subjecting the black minority to unequal treatment, it also lead to the terrorizing and tyrannical suppression of freedom for black Americans. This problem was not just in the south either, but all across the country were black Americans were attacked, subjected to discriminatory policing, and held back from holding an equal status with white Americans. m-10469Tensions over this treatment erupted with the civil rights movement of the 50’s and 60’s, accomplishing the Equal Rights Act of 1965 which aimed to raise the worth of a black American to that of a white American and fully welcome and integrate the black minority into the American society they had already lived in.

The unrest of inequality never died down, however, and 51 years after the Equal Rights Act we can see the racial inequality and the effect of the white majority, especially with new media and technology. Racial tensions have not stopped since 1965 and with good reason. Black Americans still feel the force of unjust policing, systemic racism, and everyday discrimination.black-lives-matter-lol1 Recently groups such as Black Lives Matter have formed to speak out and fight this injustice. While it may not be as grand a fight as the Civil War, America is not truly democratic when the tyranny of the majority still fuels the racial divide, and while it is not something we do willingly, we unconsciously prove Tocqueville right by not demanding the status quo be changed.

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One Response to Unconsciously Proving Tocqueville Right

  1. nicmccaleb says:

    I really enjoyed reading your post. In a segment of “Democracy in America,” Tocqueville explains how the majority possesses both physical authority and moral authority while the leaders only possess physical authority. It is in this sense that I put the full responsibility of the destruction of the racial divide into the hands of the people. The everyday discrimination that you speak of can be completely eliminated if the majority practices their moral authority to put an end to it. The leadership can continue to make race-equality related laws but in the end, it is the citizens that must put an end to the racial divide.

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