Alexis de Tocqueville concludes the second volume of his influential political work Democracy in America with a discussion of “What Kind of Despotism Democratic Nations have to Fear.” The phenomenon Tocqueville seeks to capture in his final chapters is often called “democratic” or “soft” despotism, and it is notably distinct from the traditional conception of despotism. The threat soft despotism represents to democracies is new to the world Tocqueville lived in, and as such, Tocqueville chose the word despotism to describe it because he felt no better word existed. So, to accurately describe the phenomenon that Tocqueville feared, he had to re-conceptualize despotism. When Tocqueville discusses soft despotism, he means a democratic state where people are incapable of being truly free. In examining this concretely, I have developed five criteria which capture all the characteristics of soft despotism: 1. The equality of conditions; 2. The destruction of social connection; 3. The creation of a centralized administrative state; 4. The fulfillment of base desires; and 5. The death of the political sphere. In “Defining Soft Despotism,” I offer explanations of what each of these five criteria means, and I discuss both how Tocqueville and later scholars view them. I offer my own understanding of each of these criteria framed in Tocqueville’s thought. Next, in “Understanding Soft Despotism,” I discuss what about soft despotism is so concerning to Tocqueville and focus on his belief that it fundamentally changes the people who live under it, depriving them of their humanity. Then, I discuss why Americans should be concerned today. Lastly, in “Measuring Soft Despotism,” I take data for each of the five criteria and examine them to see if they appear to match what Tocqueville envisioned a soft despotism would be like. In my assessment, I find that America today does not seem to be a soft despotism. America does not meet all five criteria I believe define a soft despotism. Instead, it appears America is only close to experiencing two of the five: the destruction of social connection, and the death of the political sphere. Despite these findings, there is still room for concern that America is heading towards becoming a soft despotism, or is perhaps headed in a different, but equally undesirable direction.