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.

Mounk: I hadn’t thought about dignity in those terms. Dignity is a term that has a kind of left wing currency in history. Various forms of capitalism are supposedly against the dignity of individuals; there are attempts to use the term “dignity” in order to justify aspects of the welfare state, and so on. Then as you’re saying, obviously, there’s a more conservative concept, which is rooted in Christianity, which also includes a set of norms and expectations about how people act. What’s fascinating about Trump is that he attacks dignity in both of those forms.

Mansfield: That’s right. The forms and formalities. That’s a theme of Tocqueville’s and it’s very important. It is true that our country, America, is always a can-do country, which means that it always wants to find the shortcut. But we’re also a due process country, which means you have to do it the right way. Trump’s totally lacking in a sense of due process. And that’s a kind of dignity. Due process is giving legal form to your rights. To have rights is to be dignified. So in that way, the Democrats are right that there’s a kind of inherent dignity to a human being. Their [idea of] inclusiveness features this importance of dignity.


When we riot in the street to either prejudge or protest the judicial process we undermine due process.  When we bypass or ignore the legal system to protest the outcome of an election with accusations that do not pass judicial muster we undermine due process.