restricted access Chapter 21.a Of Parliamentary Eloquence in the United Statesb
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861 s4s4s4s4s4 c h a p t e r 2 1a Of Parliamentary Eloquence in the United Statesb a. 1. The discussions of the English Parliament are led by only a few men, which makes them clear, plain and concise. Why it is not the same in Congress. 1. In aristocratic countries, the members of the legislature study the parliamentary art in advance and for a longer time. This reason is good, but insufficient. 2. The habit of hierarchy and subordination that men have in aristocratic society follows them into the assembly. It is not the same in democratic countries. 3. Aristocratic deputies, all being of considerable importance by themselves, are easily consoled about not playing a role in the assembly and do not want a mediocre one. Democratic deputies have in the country only the rank that they have in the assembly; that necessarily pushes them ahead. 4. They are, moreover, pushed to speak by the voters; and as they depend much more on the voters, they yield to them on this point. 2. That is the petty side of democratic discussions. Here is the great one. 1. Since there are no distinct classes, orators always speak to and about the whole nation. 2. Since they cannot rely on the (illegible word) the privileges of wealth, of corps, or of persons, they are obliged to go back to the general truths provided by the examination of human nature. That gives a great character of grandeur to their eloquence and pushes its effects to the furthest ends of the earth (YTC, CVf, pp. 21– 23). b. There would be two subjects that you could still treat here: 1. The first would consist of finding out if eloquence strictly speaking is as natural to democratic assemblies as to others. I do not think so. 2. Why the reports of the Presidents to Congress have always been, until now, so simple, so clear, so noble. This would be more appropriate to the subject” (Rubish, 1). On the first page of a draft of the chapter: “This chapter is an attempt. It probably must be deleted” (Rubish, 1). Tocqueville adds in another place: “I believe that nothing must be said about this subject. Since eloquence of the pulpit, which is the most conventional , is modified by democracy, the mind is sufficiently struck by the power of the latter on all types of eloquence” (Rubish, 1). 862 parliamentary eloquence Among aristocratic peoples all men stand together and depend on each other; among all men there is a hierarchical bond by the aid of which each one can be kept in his place and the whole body can be kept in obedience. Something analogous is always found within the political assemblies of these peoples. Parties there line up naturally behind certain leaders, whom they obey by a kind of instinct that is only the result of habits contracted elsewhere. They bring to the small society of the assembly the mores of the larger society. [In the public assemblies of aristocratic nations there are only a few men who act as spokesmen. All the others assent and keep quiet. Orators speak only when something is useful to the party. They say only what can serve the general interests of the party and they do not needlessly repeat what has already been said. The discussion is clear, rapid and concise. Breadth and depth are often lacking in the discussions of the Parliament of England, but the debate is almost always conducted admirably and speeches are very pertinenttothe subject.⫽ItisnotalwayssoinCongress.⫽ I at first believed that this way of treating public affairs came from the long use that the English have of parliamentary life. But it must be clearly admitted that it is due to some other cause, since the Americans, with the same experience, do not follow the same method. In the democratic countries most accustomed to the representative regime , it often happens that a great number of those who are part of the assemblies have not sufficiently reflected in advance about the suitable way to act there. The reason is that among these peoples public life is rarely a career. You go there by chance; you soon depart. It is a road that you cross and that you do not follow. So to it you bring your natural enlightenment, and not an acquired knowledge. In aristocratic countries that have had assemblies for a long time, it is not the same. Since there is only a small number...


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