This introductory chapter provides an overview of democracy. Democracy draws much of its political and philosophical support from its claim to be the form of government in which citizens rule equally. It has long been associated, however imperfectly and incompletely, with political equality of citizens. Indeed, the greatest and most profound advances of democracy have been rejections of political inequalities: the demand that the “common born,” the propertyless, and the poor; racial minorities; and women were among those with whom citizens were obliged to share in rule equally. Democracy's claim to moral superiority as a regime draws from its claim to be the political reflection and expression of this equality among citizens. This book then offers a full account of political equality: an account that can help guide people's choices between electoral and law-making institutions and practices.
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