Critical Reading>Select an Answer
This passage is adapted from Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America. Originally published in 1835. Tocqueville was a French sociopolitical analyst.
I have already observed that, from their origin, the sovereignty of the people was the fundamental principle of the greater number of British colonies in America...
At the present day the principle of the sovereignty of the people has acquired, in the United States, all the practical development which the imagination can conceive. It is unencumbered by those fictions which have been thrown over it in other countries, and it appears in every possible form according to the exigency of the occasion. Sometimes the laws are made by the people in a body, as at Athens; and sometimes its representatives, chosen by universal suffrage, transact business in its name, and almost under its immediate control.
In some countries a power exists which, though it is in a degree foreign to the social body, directs it, and forces it to pursue a certain track. In others the ruling force is divided, being partly within and partly without the ranks of the people. But nothing of the kind is to be seen in the United States; there society governs itself for itself. All power centres in its bosom; and scarcely an individual is to be meet with who would venture to conceive, or, still less, to express, the idea of seeking it elsewhere. The nation participates in the making of its law by the choice of its legistlators, and in the execution of them by the choice of the agents of the executive government; it may almost be said to govern itself, so feeble and so restricted is the share left to the administration, so little do the authorities forget their popular origin and the power from which they emanate.
Which fact, if true, would most clearly undermine Tocqueville's primary argument about the sovereignty of the people of the United States?
A.The majority of people in the United States in 1835 were not permitted to vote.
B.Tocqueville was a French citizen who spent fewer than nine months in the United States.
C.The United States in 1835 included some states that had never been British colonies.
D.Only United States citizens meeting certain eligibility requirements have been allowed to serve in the government.
Choice A is the best answer. Throughout the passage, Tocqueville argues that in the United States the people truly govern and have power, as he has seen that they participate in the selection of their authorities and in the creation and implementation of the laws. Tocqueville's argument would be weakened if, at the time he was writing, it were true that most people in the United States were not permitted to vote and therefore were not participants in the government.