Who or what has the power to check the popular will or the general will? This is the problem, how to check democratic power. This is the problem that Tocqueville’s new political science, what he boasts in the introduction to the book, is a new political science for a world itself quite new. This is the problem that he sets out to answer. And to this extent I would also say we, are all Tocqueville’s children. We are all disciples of Tocqueville insofar as our political science continues to deal with the problem of the guidance and control of democratic government, how to, you might say, combine popular government with political wisdom. How to do that remains a problem, you might say, akin to squaring the circle but it remains the fundamental problem for democracies, how to combine popular rule with political wisdom. That was really what Tocqueville was concerned about.
Steven B. Smith
(PLSC 114 – Lecture 21 – Democratic Statecraft: Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Yale University, 2006, disponibil on-line aici)