Harvey Mansfield is now 89 and a political philosophy professor at Harvard, considered a leading authority on Tocqueville. He wrote a 60 page introduction to Democracy in America in the 2000 Chicago Press edition. The intro alone is worth the price of the book.
From Persuasion, The Conservative Case for Philosophical Liberalism, Yascha Mounk interviews Harvey Mansfield.
Mansfield: Yeah, he’s a vulgar man. That’s what I think essentially defines him. And he reminds us of just how vulgar democracy is. Democracy isn’t on its own refined, or cultivated—that’s what comes from liberalism, or the opportunity that democracy offers to give scope to intelligent and artistic and economic individuals who can achieve. Trump is really a vivid reminder of popular vulgarity. And we should not hesitate to use that word “vulgar.” Because it bites it. Trump is therefore in a way more democratic than we are. He’s more authoritarian, which means sort of arbitrary or whimsical, changes his view and insists on it. He’s more authoritarian, but that’s just what democracy is, when it isn’t made moderate and deliberate by constitutions. So he’s the underside of our system. And he’s the very kind of enemy that we were warned against at the very beginning.
He isn’t really that new, I would say. For one, he got this opportunity because of primaries. That’s why, if we chose our candidates for president in conventions and smoke-filled rooms, as we used to, they wouldn’t have come up with Donald Trump. He’s a kind of consequence, if you want to say, of the increasing democratization of our country, and this is something that I think one can really worry about: increasing democratization, which means forgetting that there is such a thing as tyranny of the majority.