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Una democracia desquiciada en Estados Unidos

NUEVA YORK – Alexis de Tocqueville, un aristócrata liberal francés, visitó Estados Unidos en 1831 con la aparente intención de escribir un estudio de su sistema penitenciario "iluminado" (encerrar a la gente en un confinamiento solitario como monjes penitentes era la última idea moderna). De este viaje surgió la obra maestra de Tocqueville, La democracia en América, en el que expresaba admiración por las libertades civiles norteamericanas y describía a la primera democracia liberal genuina del mundo de manera favorable en comparación con las instituciones del Viejo Mundo.

Sin embargo, Tocqueville también tenía serias reservas. El mayor peligro para la democracia estadounidense, a su entender, era la tiranía de la mayoría, la asfixiante conformidad intelectual de la vida norteamericana, la sofocación de la opinión de las minorías y el disenso. Estaba convencido de que cualquier ejercicio de poder ilimitado, ya sea por parte de un déspota determinado o de una mayoría política, irremediablemente termina en desastre.

La democracia, en el sentido de régimen de la mayoría, necesita limitaciones, al igual que cualquier otro sistema de gobierno. Es por ese motivo que los británicos han combinado la autoridad de los políticos electos con la del privilegio aristocrático. Y es por eso que los norteamericanos todavía están muy a gusto con la separación de los poderes gubernamentales de su Constitución.

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