Tocqueville’s Great Party Politics and the Election of Donald Trump

  • Jean M. Yarbrough


Although Tocqueville would be personally appalled at Trump’s vulgarity, he would support much of Trump’s political program, based on Democracy in America’s distinction between “great parties” (which defend high principles) and “small parties” (which engage in interest group politics). First, Tocqueville believed that a nation should cultivate its own particular identity, and thus so should the United States, while still welcoming those who can and will become part of the American project. Second, Tocqueville admired American townships’ capacity for self-government, which contrasts with the unaccountability of the federal bureaucracy. Trump is attempting to undercut the pernicious growth of the administrative state. The Progressives and the New Deal embraced ideas from Hegel, and thus transformed American government so that it now resembles the European welfare state. This development has undercut American freedom. Finally, Tocqueville would also support Trump’s call for restoring American power and prestige, for greatness is a national project.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean M. Yarbrough
    • 1
  1. 1.Bowdoin CollegeBrunswickUSA

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