Tocqueville was worried about the process of centralization because it destroys countervailing powers, it lays too much power in the hands of the politicians in the center of the political network. In America you marveled at the separation of powers between the legislative, the judiciary, and the executive branch. And of course, this was a French invention this is famous triage politicad, tri partied system. That was championed by Montescue whose work Tocqueville admired, but what struck this French intellectual was that the American's not just talk the talk but they walked the walk. Their judges are really independent. They don't follow political instructions. They jealously defend and protect their own relative autonomy. The President of the United States, of course, is a very powerful man. He preserves, protects, and defends the Constitution but he doesn't make the laws. And he is permanently controlled by Congress. And if he wants to be re-elected he has to listen carefully to the people who voted for him. If you want to safeguard civil liberties in an egalitarian society, you need a completely free press. All the news that is fit to print, as it still says every day on the front page of the New York Times. All the news that's fit to print. No censorship. No government involvement in those journalists should or should not write. A free press is an independent force that the people in power now have to take very seriously when they are involved in machinations that do not endure the clear daylight. When they are corrupt, and sometimes that is the case in the world of politics of course, then they have to fear the bloodhounds of the free press, who with their investigative journalism will try to track them down. And will try to publish without mercy about their fraudulent behavior. And that may destroy their chances for re-election. Tocqueville was sometimes impressed by what we today would call grassroots politics, ordinary people getting together and organizing a pressure group, lobby group, in order to get something done. Let's say to have a school in their village. What they do is they put pressure on the local politicians. They threaten not to vote for them next time if they don't listen to their demands. And of course a condition for that kind of behavior is the complete freedom of association. And that right of assembly is religiously respected in the USA and that's according to Tocqueville. It's a stark contrast to the practice in France. A multi-party system makes it even easier to lobby. Because every politician is afraid that his voters will abandon him and vote for the opposition next time. And all those tricks of the political trade are already taught in a playful way in the schools, where little American kids are told their civil rights, and also their civic duties. Grassroots politics is the heart and soul of the democratic system. It is the best way to fight the apathy that so often accompanies the process of centralization. In fact, local politics is the best antidote against the danger of an imbalancing power between the center and the periphery. One source of countervailing power that is still very important in America, is religion. In France, Tocqueville says the Catholic church has gradually lost its powerful position in public life. That has been taking place over a long period of time with a spurge during the French Revolution. That process is still continuing but what I see here in America is that the Christian churches are taken very seriously by the politicians and by their voters, the religious leaders are to be reckoned with. Also in the political realm, they remind everybody and that includes the men in political positions of the deeper values, the moral foundations of their society. Sometimes, it's easy for a politician to temporarily ignore the ethical component of a political decision he wants to take. At that moment it's important that somebody reminds them of rethinking the proposals in terms of the fundamental values that may be at stake. And that is the task of the religious leaders. So far from criticizing the Americans for giving their ministers of the church such an important role in a public debate, Tocqueville applauds them for it. And also, the federal system in America, where the power of the politicians in Washington is always circumscribed and limited by the power of the different states that vigorously defend their own autonomy vis a vis the federal government. Is an instructive case of how to combine democratic equality with freedom. What this all amounts to is checks and balances, countervailing powers, institutional arrangements and cultural habits that counteract the tendency towards centralization. When politicians have to monitor the critical reactions of their voters, of the newspapers, of the churches, of other politicians working on other levels or in other branches of the system. Then, there is hope for a democratic practice that does not crush the freedoms of the individual citizen. And that is one of the lessons that we can learn from our friends across the ocean.