The Thought for the Day – Alexis de Tocqueville

If we save ourselves, we save at the same time all the nations which surround us. If we perish, we shall cause all of them to perish with us. – Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy In America


Alexis de Tocqueville was a French writer, diplomat and historian, and Democracy In America remains one of the great works in Western letters. Today’s Thought concerns America place in the world and the influence and hope it held for other nations and people.

De Tocqueville and a partner had been dispatched to the United States by the French government in 1831 to study our prison system. They spent nine months in the US and their travels from the basis for Democracy In America. It was a time of great change in America, as improvements in transportation and communications changed the American economy, Americans were moving west in greater numbers and the influence of Andrew Jackson, then a couple years into his presidency, was beginning to assert itself.

Though America was still an emerging nation in the 19th century, today’s Thought is equally true today: the world needs an America to look up to. It always has, too, despite the faults we’ve had since before the founding of this republic. America has always been an ideal as much as it’s been a country.

Not only does the world need a strong America, America needs a strong America. America cannot mean anything to others unless we mean something to ourselves and we can only do that by striving to be more than we are now. Right now, America is taking a flier on that, it’s government not giving other nations the dignity of conducting their affairs without US interference and its citizens bickering about everything, including whether long dead generals should have monuments raised in their honor.

If we save ourselves, we save at the same time all the nations which surround us…

The world needs a prosperous and strong America. There is simply no other nation with the history and strength to set the example the world needs. We are not doing a particularly good job of setting that example right now, but that’s all right. Some individual and collective initiative, some striving to be more than we are now and soon enough we have the America the world needs.

Despite all our faults despite everything we’ve done to sully or reputation, despite the scorn some, deservedly, have for us, millions of people still look up to America as the nation of liberty, where one is free to get up every day and make something good happen for himself.

It’s an example America has an obligation to set.

The Thought for the Day runs regularly. Quotes are from Gaylon’s private stock.

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