Sorry, I’ll stop after this, but one of the really nice things about “Democracy in America” is although Tocqueville is a genius at making fun of Americans, he isn’t petty. He saves his serious criticisms for the country’s serious wrongs, like slavery or the treatment of Indians.
That said, check out what a genius he is at making fun of us! This excerpt is a bit long, but I promise that almost every sentence is funnier than the one that came before it:
“Americans, in their relations with foreigners, seem impatient of the slightest censure and insatiable in their appetite for priase. They are pleased by the merest of commendations and seldom satisfied by the fullest. They pester you constantly for your praise, and if you hold out against the importuning, they will laud themselves. Doubtful perhaps of their own merit, they wish to have its portrait constantly before their eyes. Their vanity is not only greedy but also restless and envious. It gives nothing yet is always asking to receive. It is simultaneously grasping and argumentative.
I say to an American that he lives in a beautiful country. He replies, “Yes, indeed, there is none other like it in the world!” I admire the liberty that its inhabitants enjoy, and he responds, “Liberty is a precious gift, but very few peoples are worthy of it.” I remark on the purity of morals prevailing in the United States: “I can imagine,” he says, “that a foreigner struck by the corruption that is so glaringly apparent in all other nations might be surprised by such a sight.” Ultimately I leave him to contemplate himself, but he returns to my side and refuses to leave until he has made me repeat what I have just told him. A patriotism more trying or loquacious is impossible to imagine. It wearies even those who honor it.”
Ultimately I leave him to contemplate himself, but