SALOMONE: Tocqueville Isn’t Dead

Submitted by Frank Salomone

This letter is a response to Svetlana Wasserman’s letter to the editor attacking the “Libertarian Zealotry” of Kimberly Fiorello (which is her opinion). (WASSERMAN: The Outdated Libertarian Zealotry of Kimberly Fiorello May 23, 2021)

The point of my letter is NOT to be rhetorical, but to persuade readers to ponder questions and do research.

When reading Ms. Wasserman’s letter, I immediately thought back to a program I participated in sponsored by National Review called the Burke to Buckley Program.

I generally viewed myself prior to this program as a diehard Laissez-faire conservative, along the lines of William F Buckley and Ronald Reagan, but I have to admit I “Evolved” after reading some of our good old founding documents like the Federalist Papers. I experience a constant battle of ideas in my head between identifying as Team Alexander Hamilton and Team James Madison. 

I truly view “The State” as a potential force for good, if its leader is benevolent. After all, we as people must surrender some of our freedoms so as to not be engaged in a “War of All Against All”, as Thomas Hobbes wrote in the Leviathan, “In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain, and consequently no culture of the earth, no navigation nor the use of commodities that may be imported by sea, no commodious building, no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force, no knowledge of the face of the earth, no account of time, no arts, no letters, no society, and which is worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death, and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

Early on after the founding of our Nation, Alexander Hamilton wanted to increase US manufacturing by having the government develop the industry. It was met with widespread fear, however that it was governmental overreach. When I researched this idea more, I actually came around to his idea and no longer identify as a pure Laissez-faire conservative. I believe a benevolent State can accomplish great things for its people.

Ms. Wasserman starts out sounding like she falls into the Alexander Hamilton camp, that government needs to step in and address a laundry list of problems. She included climate, education, infrastructure, “Institutional” racism.

What she doesn’t include is how successful or unsuccessful government has been at addressing these issues. She does also sound a lot like Woodrow Wilson with the attitude that the “Common Man” cannot address these complex issues.

Can she tell me specifically why a government needs to have a total monopoly to “Educate” our children for as many years as it does without tangible outcomes? When was the last time someone asked you what you expect children to know once they emerge from school?

Has Ms. Wasserman ever driven I95 south in the evening and wondered why she is in constant traffic as a multi-year Infrastructure project on the NY-CT border isn’t complete? How come it is taking years to complete? And has Ms. Wasserman achieved consensus with everyone what “Institutional Racism even means or if it exists? I don’t believe that America is Institutionally Racist, look at how much opportunity there is for all in this country. It is insulting to me as an American to call my nation Institutionally Racist.

Ms. Wasserman is no Alexander Hamilton. The points she raises clearly fall into what James Madison warned about in the Federalist papers, that democracies devolve into factions and get weaker over time. 

Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in Democracy in America that one of the wonderful things about this country is that if ordinary people want to solve a problem, they don’t have to ask the aristocracy for permission like in the Old World. Ms. Wasserman may not be mandating we go to an aristocracy, but she is demanding an Administrative State grant us permission at best, or tackle the problem that they define at worst. 

Ms. Wasserman, I am here to state that I do not trust, or have any confidence that “Your State” has any ability, or interest in solving any of the problems you bring up. I truly believe a State could do amazing things, just not the entity that exists today that is a confederation of factions that view everyone as the enemy and would be at war with each other. Therefore, we should not grant the State full authority to deal with these problems. Kim Fiorello wants “We The People” to be able to have the Freedom to determine our destiny and solve our problems. I’m shocked that it is considered an outdated concept or extremism by many in this community, and I fully stand by Kim to advance that freedom. Shouldn’t we have as much of a chance as the State does?????