October 19th, 2017

Trump and Tocqueville

Toqueville almost certainly would have looked down his nose at Trump—much as he did Andrew Jackson, who was president during the Frenchman’s 1831 visit to the US.

But as Jean Yarbrough (Bowdoin professor of political philosophy and American political thought, as well as good friend of mine) points out in her article in City Journal entitled “Trump—and Tocqueville?”: “For all his bluster, [Trump] has championed values that built America, as Tocqueville saw it.”

Those values include ““self-interest, well understood,” applying “great-party principles” by attempting to limit the power of bureaucrats, and aspiring to greatness through restoring America’s standing in the world. Please read the whole thing.

12 Responses to “Trump and Tocqueville”

  1. vanderleun Says:

    Sir, yes sir! I am off to RTWT!

  2. djf Says:

    Trump has read a few nice, noble-sounding phrases in speeches written for him by his staff. Whether Trump has given these phrases any thought, beyond their effect on his popularity within the some subset of the electorate, is doubtful. Trump has championed only himself.

    FWIW, the most prominent person in Trump’s administration who is sincerely working to advance the “agenda” on which Trump ran – Jeff Sessions – has fallen out of favor with the president. Meanwhile, the administration is otherwise run by establishment hacks (Kelly, Mattis, McMaster, Tillerson, Acosta) and conventional New York progressives (Mnuchin, Jared and Ivanka).

    Why serious people continue to pretend to themselves that Trump has an “agenda” beyond his own self-aggrandizement is beyond me.

  3. TommyJay Says:

    Yarbrough – thumbs up; dif – thumbs down.

    I don’t know much about Bowdoin, but I’d guess that’s a very dangerous article for her to write.

  4. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Though many may disagree, Yarbrough has the right of it.

  5. neo-neocon Says:


    Yarbrough ‘s political point of view is well- known at Bowdoin.

  6. parker Says:

    “.. capacity of Americans to govern ourselves..”

    Exactly, we can govern ourselves without assistance from the corrupt, bloated slime in DC. I live in a relatively corruption free state that is financially stable. That can not be said for a large majority of states and cetainly not DC. Time to dissolve the union peacefully. Please oh please let CA go their own way once all military resources are transferred to Texas.

  7. Oldflyer Says:

    Well dif, maybe people believe that he has an agenda that advances our interests because we see him working to enact it.

    Many have said, so it really should not need repeating, although it apparently does; Trump should be judged more by his actions than by his words.

    Bye the bye, if anyone saw General Kelly at the press briefing, you heard that the President reached out to him as a man who has experienced the agony of losing a son, for advice on how to console the family of the fallen Green Berets. Strangely, he is accused of insensitivity for using words very close to what the General offered in response; the words spoken to his own grief by a fellow Marine General, and which had comforted him as much as words could.

    (Kelly also made it clear that he did not hear from Obama when his son was killed in Afghanistan.)

    Where the President erred, was by not treating the spurious attack by the self-serving Democrat Congress woman in the same way that the General did. He (paraphrasing) referred to her as a hollow vessel that makes a loud noise. He also documented her own mind numbing insensitivity as a participant in a solemn occasion. It is certainly a flaw that Trump cannot follow a more judicious path when attacked; but, it is a relatively minor one when weighed on the grand scale.

  8. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    I can’t recall ever having my attention drawn to to Yarbrough’s Bowdoin College before, in fact I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of it.

    Just now, one link led to another and I found myself reading of Bowdoin College’s most famous personage; the Civil War’s “Lion of Roundtop” one Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, a remarkable man of whom I had also never heard…

    His life story defines both heroic and legendary… so much so that I found myself thinking that if I saw this in a movie it would strain credulity. Very much worth your time.

  9. Ann Says:

    Strangely, he is accused of insensitivity for using words very close to what the General offered in response; the words spoken to his own grief by a fellow Marine General, and which had comforted him as much as words could.

    Too bad then that Trump had to tweet his adolescent denial and stir up this hornet’s nest. Yet one more lie. What is wrong with him?

  10. huxley Says:

    I wasn’t a big fan, but back in the sixties when the “GE College Bowl” was a once-a-week TV staple, I remember a show when Bowdoin completely shut down their competition.

    Those guys ruled!

    What a wacky world that was, when knowing the answers to tough academic questions could get you air-time on national television.

  11. huxley Says:

    I think this is what I saw. The date is about right for my sixth grade memory.

    “1964: Captained by Ken Smith ’64, Bowdoin wins its 5th consecutive match on the GE College Bowl TV Show.”

  12. Ymar Sakar Says:

    It is certainly a flaw that Trump cannot follow a more judicious path when attacked; but, it is a relatively minor one when weighed on the grand scale.

    The issue with that is that many people that have taken that position adopt a higher standard when arguing with random internet commenters.

    They get personally offended, attack, and attribute blame all around, even for people that have no power over them because This is the Internet.

    Yet for someone as powerful as the US President, so long as he does the “right thing”, he is given immunities, much like Harvey was given due to his power and leverage.

    Are humans naturally hypocrites or is this merely tribalism at work? People can bend the knee to the Powerful in DC, when they get something they need for survival, but they won’t bend even a millimeter in compromise to random strangers online.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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