My annual Theory Camp began this week. We are reading Tocqueville's Democracy in America.
We chewed on this line:
“The American government is not a federal government but an incomplete national government.”
I had been used to thinking that the United States really become one united nation as a result of the Civil War, and that the federal government really became the national government as a result of the New Deal and the Second World War.
However, I think Tocqueville is right that the United States, and the US government, really were a nation and a national government from the start - in an incomplete form. Our patriotism, and our extraordinarily complex government, did grow organically from a unity and power that were there in principle from the beginning.