You may never have heard of Alexis de Tocqueville before, but for students of democracy he’s essential reading.  A young political thinker from France, he toured America for two years in the 1830s, arrived back home and immediately published his Democracy in America. It was readily apparent that he had the knack for understanding American citizenry and its institutions like few others. His book became an instant classic and is still essential reading in universities today. His insights were brilliant, full of candor, with a delightful tone of optimism. His observations have gone virtually unchallenged, but I’m thinking he might have been wrong, at least in part. Enthralled as he was with America, he worried that democracy might not survive because citizens seemed to…