Someone in 1831 thought Americans were enamored with equality???
Where…between Protestant white males?
Help me out here.
Taking him in historical context, and compared to the European societies with which he was familiar - yes, in his eyes America was obsessed with equality; he perceived this obsession as a kind of holy tenet to an unofficial civic religion.
Thus his concern that our disdain for any sort of hierarchy (in culture and elsewhere) would lead to a kind of celebration of the average, and thus a kind of lukewarm mediocrity. Which is what we have now.
It seems to me that his eyes were deceived, mainly because while we may have been talking equality, we certainly were not practicing it for significant parts of the population.
Another set of questions:
Celebration of the average what? Man? Government? Other?
Has led to lukewarm mediocrity in what?
De Tocqueville believed that Americans want a big government just as long as they get to pop up their heads every few years and choose their leaders. As he puts it, they are ‘happy to accept leading strings’ because they get to vote on who holds those strings.
"Our contemporaries are constantly excited by two conflicting passions: they want to be led, and they wish to remain free. As they cannot destroy either the one or the other of these contrary propensities, they strive to satisfy them both at once.
They devise a sole, tutelary, and all-powerful form of government, but elected by the people. They combine the principle of centralization and that of popular sovereignty; this gives them a respite: they console themselves for being in tutelage by the reflection that they have chosen their own guardians.
Every man allows himself to be put in leading-strings, because he sees that it is not a person or a class of persons, but the people at large who hold the end of his chain."