In today’s Washington Post a new American citizen, Carlos Lozada, offers sage advice for every American, in a piece that offers a fresh perspective on our unique political experiment, quoting a very old source – “The book every new American citizen — and every old one, too — should read: To mark my first year of U.S. citizenship, I read Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America.” Turns out, it explains everything”. Lozada explains:
“My first full year as a citizen of the United States was also the year Donald Trump made nativism a viable political project. It was the year college activists battled racism with their own peculiar intolerance. It was the year Rachel Dolezal was redefined, Atticus Finch rewritten, Caitlyn Jenner revealed. It was the year police shootings became viral, mass shootings became daily and same-sex marriage became law. It was a year America did little else, it seemed, than fight over values, identity, premises.
It’s exhausting, being American. Seriously, do you folks do this every year?
I’m not a recent arrival. I graduated from college here, got married here, built a family here. But only with citizenship did I grasp the distance I’d always kept. I left my native Peru behind 27 years ago, but whenever this country seemed too painful or complicated, I’d shake my head sagely. Estos gringos locos. Except now everything about the place — its virtues and excesses, its history and future — is all mine, too. For the first time, I feel the glorious burden of being American.
To carry it, I’ve realized I need help. Sure, I passed the citizenship test, even practicing the list of 100 questions with my kids. (They’ll ace elementary school civics now.) But for the advanced coursework, my instinct was to turn to a book. What could I read that would guide me through the chaos that is democracy in America?
Fortunately, there’s this little book called “Democracy in America” — written 175 years ago by, of all people, some know-it-all foreigner.”
Democracy in America is also available free online at http://www.gutenberg.org:
Vol 1 here
Vol 2 – here