A 19th Century French Observer Sheds Light on America's Unstable Politics

3 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2014

See all articles by Frank T. Manheim

Frank T. Manheim

Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University

Date Written: February 4, 2014

Abstract

The French observer of the United States in the 1830s, Alexis De Tocqueville, is often celebrated for identifying “American exceptionalism,” i.e. a set of national characteristics not found in any of the nations from which immigrants came. Positive traits that De Tocqueville described are well known. However, De Tocqueville also described less well-known unflattering characteristics. Recent developments support the idea that these traits remain hard wired in American society and help account for political dysfunctions that are unique among advanced nations.

Keywords: De Tocqueville, U.S national characteristics, political dysfuction, American exceptionalism

JEL Classification: A13, B30, J18, O51, Z00, Z10

Suggested Citation

Manheim, Frank T., A 19th Century French Observer Sheds Light on America's Unstable Politics (February 4, 2014). GMU School of Public Policy Research Paper No. 15-9, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2390871 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2390871

Frank T. Manheim (Contact Author)

Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://policy.gmu.edu/manheim

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