December 26, 2012

I studied Alexis de Tocqueville for a year and a half. I have read everything he has written. He was a fascinating person. For a French guy he understood what it takes to be an American. More than most Americans. 


Dr. Michael Ledeen is the Freedom Scholar at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and an internationally renowned scholar, whose ideas and insights on  […]
Alexis de Tocqueville, the nineteenth-century French aristocrat whose Democracy in America remains the finest analysis of our politics and society, put it succinctly and thoroughly:  “The nature of despotic power in democratic ages is not to be fierce or cruel, but minute and meddling.”

Not, than, a tyranny of the Stalin or Hitler variety. Not a society ruthlessly dominated by secret police and a charismatic dictator. Instead, American democracy is menaced by something far more subtle, a minutely-regulated society that is endorsed by a citizenry that willingly chooses to be oppressed.

Tocqueville’s nightmare vision, written in the early 1830s foresees “an immense and tutelary power,” and its task is to watch over us all, and regulate every aspect of our lives.

We will not be bludgeoned into submission; we will be seduced. He foresees the collapse of American democracy as the end result of two parallel developments that ultimately render us meekly subservient to an enlarged bureaucratic power: the corruption of our character, and the emergence of a vast welfare state that manages all the details of our lives.
Ledeen: What Sort of Tyranny Will Americans Choose?
Painting of French Political Thinker Alexis de Tocqueville, by Theodore Chasseriau (1850)
That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks on the contrary to keep them in perpetual childhood. It is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property…what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?

The metaphor of a parent maintaining perpetual control over his child is the language of contemporary American politics, and hardly a day goes by without evidence of the state’s growing authority and ambition. Two recent stories would produce a sad nod from Tocqueville:
The  ”immense tutelary power” is very hard to fight, precisely because there is no single battle to wage against it. It spreads slowly, and is justified by appeals to our grievances, our desire for comfort and security.
The hell of it is that we choose this new kind of tyranny, and all too often we ratify it, as in the presidential elections. Others have done the same. Clare Lopez reminds us that people do indeed choose despotism. She cites the Iranians’ enthusiastic endorsement of the Islamic Republic in 1979 and 1980, and we can see the same voluntary subjection of millions of people at work today in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and even Jordan, and in the last century even two of the most culturally advanced countries in the West–think Italy and Germany–chose tyranny, and supported it until defeated in a world war. It’s easier to see the pattern in those countries, because hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets, and the leaders openly proclaim their dictatorial intents. But the same process is at work here, albeit in a much different context, and our chances of defeating the would-be oppressors are much better.

Our best chance is to challenge the advance of the power of the federal government at the state level, where the Republican Party holds thirty governorships. As federal power advances regulation by regulation, the states can challenge it. This is taking place today in the states refusing to create Obamacare “exchanges,” and we’ve seen advances in freedom in states like Wisconsin and Michigan, where unions’ efforts to impose their will on workers were defeated. Similar campaigns need to be waged against the “official culture” of political correctness;  if open debate is silenced by speech codes, we will eventually be unable to define the central issues of freedom and tyranny.
Finally, all of us who participate in the fractious debates that define American politics–now as ever–need to challenge the expansion of state power whenever and wherever we can. Eric Holder’s quiet approval of the NCTC’s ability to monitor the behavior of millions of Americans would have gone unnoticed if two women in Homeland Security hadn’t challenged it, and their stories weren’t reported by the Wall Street Journal. Now we know. And now we can challenge it.

It’s going to be a very tough fight.

December 24, 2012

In U.S., 77% Identify as Christian

Eighteen percent have no explicit religious identity

by Frank Newport
PRINCETON, NJ -- The large majority of Americans -- 77% of the adult population -- identify with a Christian religion, including 52% who are Protestants or some other non-Catholic Christian religion, 23% who are Catholic, and 2% who affiliate with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Another 18% of Americans do not have an explicit religious identity and 5% identify with a non-Christian religion.
Religious Preference in the United States, 2011 vs. 2012
This breakdown is essentially the same as it was in 2011. Compared with last year, Protestant and Catholic identification dropped.
The 2012 findings on the breakdown of religious identification in the American population are based on more than 326,000 Gallup Daily tracking interviews conducted between Jan. 2 and Nov. 30.
Mormons Most Religious of Any Faith
Mormons are by far the most religious of any group in this analysis, based on self-reported importance of religion and religious service attendance, followed by Protestants/other non-Catholic Christians and Muslims. Catholics are slightly less likely than these groups to say religion is important in their daily life and that they attend religious services frequently. Those who identify with a non-Christian religion other than Judaism or Islam are less religious still. And Jews are the least religious group measured.
Is religion important in your daily life? January-November 2012 results
How often do you attend religious services? January-November 2012 results
Bottom Line
The United States remains a largely Christian nation; more than nine in 10 Americans who have a religious identity are affiliated with a Christian religion. There has been little change in this portrait of religious identity in the U.S. from last year.
Mormons remain the most religious group of those measured, while Jews are the least. Protestants and Muslims continue to be slightly more religious than Catholics.
Survey Methods
Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking Jan. 2-Nov. 30, 2012, with a random sample of 326,271 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cellphone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cellphone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, cellphone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2011 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit