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Wie die US-Demokratie aus den Fugen gerät

NEW YORK – Alexis de Tocqueville, ein liberaler französischer Aristokrat, besuchte 1831 die Vereinigten Staaten, um eine Studie über das „erleuchtete“ Gefängnissystem des Landes zu schreiben (Menschen wie bußfertige Mönche in Einzelzellen zu sperren, war damals die neueste Idee). Aus dieser Reise ging sein Meisterwerk Demokratie in Amerika hervor, in dem er seine Bewunderung für die amerikanischen Bürgerrechte ausdrückte und die erste wirklich liberale Demokratie der Welt einem vorteilhaften Vergleich mit den Institutionen der Alten Welt unterzog.

Aber Tocqueville hatte auch ernste Bedenken. Die größte Gefahr für die US-Demokratie waren seiner Ansicht nach die Tyrannei der Mehrheit, die erstickende intellektuelle Konformität des amerikanischen Lebens sowie die Unterdrückung von Minderheitsmeinungen und Abweichungen. Er war überzeugt, jede Ausübung unbegrenzter Macht, sei es durch einen einzelnen Despoten oder durch eine politische Mehrheit, könne nur im Unglück enden.

Demokratie im Sinne einer Mehrheitsregierung braucht Beschränkungen, ebenso wie jedes andere Regierungssystem. Aus diesem Grund haben die Briten der Autorität gewählter Politiker mit derjenigen der Aristokratie gemischt. Und deshalb schätzen auch die Amerikaner immer noch die Trennung der Regierungsgewalten durch die Verfassung.

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