POL_SC 1100 Lecture 9: Tocqueville’s Townships and Jeffersonian Democracy

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Department
Political Science
Course
POL_SC 1100
Professor
Stephen Seagrave
Semester
Spring

Description
Tocqueville’s Townships and Jeffersonian Democracy • Applying Liberty and Equality in the Constitution o Representation and Democracy ▪ We elect representatives that vote and make educated decisions for us ▪ Direct democracy every citizen votes o Federalism o Separation of Powers • What was political liberty for Tocqueville? o Everyone is involved in government in some way o He valued township level of civic politics • Early Americans worked in direct democracy through town meetings o He thinks this is the most important place where government happens • Tocqueville’s Township o “natural” – no representation, direct democracy, first political association above the individual ▪ They are a natural community meaning they form spontaneously. It’s natural that you’d want to meet with your neighbors to discuss local issues o Like a school – educates and forms “mores” ▪ People learn things when they participate in government. They learn by doing. ▪ Townships like schools people can go to learn how to be a good democratic citizen ▪ If people are engaged in discussion you hear different perspectives, learn to compromise. ▪ These help lead to the success of American democracy • Jeffersonian Democracy o Tocqueville was a big fan of Jefferson. A lot of similar ideas, specifically local level direct democracy. o Jefferson Wards = Tocqueville’s Townships o Big difference is Tocqueville’s doesn’t use townships as a critique and he doesn’t really critique the constitution where Jefferson does. • “The abuses of monarchy had so much filled all the space of political contemplation, that we imagined everything republican which was not monarchy. We had not yet penetrated to the mother principle, that governments are republican only in proportion as they embody the will of their people and execute it o Jefferson believed that representatives should do exactly what the people want o Constitution needs to embody the will of the people • Where then is our republicanism to be found ? Not in our constitution certainly, but merely in the spirit of our people. That would oblige even a despot to govern us republicanly. Owing to this spirit, and to nothing in the form of
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