A critic of individualism, Tocqueville thought that association, the coming together of people for common purpose, would bind Americans to an idea of nation larger than selfish desires, thus making a civil society which wasn't exclusively dependent on the state.
More than just imploding any traces of old-world aristocracy, ordinary Americans also refused to defer to those possessing, as Tocqueville put it, superior talent and intelligence. These natural elites, who Tocqueville asserted were the lone virtuous members of American society, could not enjoy much share in the political sphere as a result. Ordinary Americans enjoyed too much power, claimed too great a voice in the public sphere, to defer to intellectual superiors. This culture promoted a relatively pronounced equality, Tocqueville argued, but the same mores and opinions that ensured such equality also promoted, as he put it, a middling mediocrity.
Those who possessed true virtue and talent would be left with limited choices, choices which many have suggested shed light on American society today. Those with the most education and intelligence would either, Tocqueville prognosticated, join limited intellectual circles to explore the weighty and complex problems facing society which have today become the academic or contemplative realms, or use their superior talents to take advantage of America's growing obsession with money-making and amass vast fortunes in the private sector