News Archive 2009-2018

Trump’s Policies May Have Resonated with Tocqueville, Writes Bowdoin’s Yarbrough Archives

Jean Yarbrough

The nineteenth century French aristocrat and political writer Alexis de Tocqueville was singularly unimpressed with President Andrew Jackson, whom he met when visiting the United States in 1831, wrote Gary M. Pendy Professor of Social Sciences Jean Yarbrough in City Journal.

“After meeting Jackson, Tocqueville concluded that the low tone of American society started at the top,” said Yarbrough. “In Tocqueville’s estimation, Jackson was ‘a man of violent character and middling capacity.’ Worse, he seemed to have no talent for politics,” she continued.

Given that, you might assume that Tocqueville, observing from beyond the grave, would not be a fan of America’s current president, Donald J. Trump. However, Yarbrough claimed, the two men have more in common than one might think.

“Trump campaigned on issues that have a Tocquevillean resonance,” she wrote. “Put another way, Tocqueville highlighted certain dangers to democratic liberty and greatness that Trump… instinctively seized on to win the presidency.”

Read Jean Yarbrough in City Journal.


2 thoughts on “Trump’s Policies May Have Resonated with Tocqueville, Writes Bowdoin’s Yarbrough

  1. Christopher H. Hanks '68 (TD)

    Trump “instinctively seized” on the basest elements of human nature to win the presidency. Monsieur de Tocqueville would be appalled by Trump and Professor Yarbrough knows it. Indeed, reading between the lines of her City Journal essay, my guess is Professor Yarbrough would agree that Trump is unfit to be president. Nevertheless, Professor Yarbrough has found a way to conflate a defense of traditional conservative principles with a defense of Donald Trump as president. She will be disappointed.

  2. bob mcdowell

    Thanks to prof Yarbrough for the two passages on line both of which Rush spoke highly about on his show today.I wanted to read more as I am in the de Tocqueville “camp” and am one of the new conservatives and hope Trump moves the country to the right. Hillsdale college also publishes well researched articles on our history. Best to all, bob

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