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Friday, July 29, 2011

More Fake Tocqueville

From an editorial in the Sun Journal of Lewiston, Maine:

In the midst of the national train wreck now developing in Washington, some of his observations seem as if they could have been written today.

"The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money," he wrote.

Even de Tocqueville probably didn't envision that we would borrow the money to do the bribing, nor that tens of millions of Americans would depend upon that borrowed money for everything from health care to old-age pensions.

But de Tocqueville didn't entirely blame politicians.

Democracy "can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largess 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."

One can also find the purported Tocqueville passage at It is bogus: Tocqueville wrote no such thing. The spurious quotation has circulated for years, with many attributing it to Scottish historian Alexander Tytler (sometimes misspelled as "Tyler"), but he didn't writer it, either.