Thursday, June 7, 2012

Wisconsin And Tocqueville

You know, the way I always expect the worst of people and politicians (both of them, people AND politicians) you'd think that I would be used to being pleasantly surprised by the way things tend to turn out better than I had anticipated, but you'd be wrong because I am sadly correct far too often for my taste, so it was great to see that voters in Wisconsin actually voted in their own self interest rather than in the interest of their putative public servants who see themselves as a down-trodden ruling class. How's that for a bizarre self-concept? down-trodden rulers? Anyway, now that the stock market has expressed the economy's collective relief at the turning back of the thuggery, kleptocracy, and union-bossery I thought it was time to drag out that great quote from Alexis de Tocqueville that everyone knows, but that no one seems to believe anymore:
“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years.”
Alexis de Tocqueville
I think that the vote in Wisconsin may actually have put a glimmer of hope in these jaded eyes of mine - not that I'm going to be looking at the world through rose-colored glasses or anything like that, but it may be that the voters there finally figured out whose largesse was being voted to whom and they realized that we're on the verge of running out of "them" as in "tax them to pay for whatever it is that I want for myself" and so it's time for people to start paying their own way rather than soaking the tax-target group du jour (take that, de Tocqueville!).

Sorry to sound a note of hope. I'll try not to make it a habit.

Posted by Lewis Cannon

Related Posts:

The Straw That Turns The Camel's Stomach?
Ponzi Schmonzi
Won't Someone Think of the Voters!?
Copping an Attitude 
Another Slippery Slope (there, I said it!)  
Suppose You Were An Idiot 
Congress Is In Recess When I Say It's In Recess 
Remember - I Told You So!


  1. That great quote indeed! Small point in the interest of truth. Tocqueville never said it. This began circulating on the internet in 2000 during the Bush-Gore election season. Some have claimed that the quote comes from a book, "The Fall of the Athenian Republic," attributed to Alexander Tytler, a Scottish historian of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. He never wrote such a book. More likely, the quote originated in the mind of some 21st century political hack.

  2. Oh great, now I have to go do more digging to see if this is a real quote or not even though I've seen it all over the place. I guess it's part of the burden of being a "journalist" that I have to confirm my sources even when they've been dead for over a century or so.
    Of course, just because it's misattibuted to anybody and everybody doesn't mean it's not correct, and I still think there's a big nugget of wit and wisdom contained in that long yet pithy phrase.