This month's cover story got me thinking about the French aristocrat who visited America in 1831 and whose observations about our democracy and the American psyche are collected in “American Democracy.” In this two-volume masterpiece, Alexis de Tocqueville noted the proclivity Americans demonstrated for forming groups of like-minded individuals in pursuit of common interests: “Americans of all ages, all conditions, and all dispositions constantly form associations. They have not only ...

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