A 19th Century French Observer Sheds Light on America's Unstable Politics
3 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2014
Date Written: February 4, 2014
The French observer of the United States in the 1830s, Alexis De Tocqueville, is often celebrated for identifying “American exceptionalism,” i.e. a set of national characteristics not found in any of the nations from which immigrants came. Positive traits that De Tocqueville described are well known. However, De Tocqueville also described less well-known unflattering characteristics. Recent developments support the idea that these traits remain hard wired in American society and help account for political dysfunctions that are unique among advanced nations.
Keywords: De Tocqueville, U.S national characteristics, political dysfuction, American exceptionalism
JEL Classification: A13, B30, J18, O51, Z00, Z10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation