Political Equality: What Is It? Why Do We Want It?

Sidney Verba, Harvard University
Publication Date:
Jan 2001
Project Programs:
Social, Political, and Economic Inequality

Of the various ways in which citizens in the United States can be unequal, political inequality is- one of the most significant and troubling. By political equality we refer to the extent to which citizens have an equal voice over governmental decisions. One of the bedrock principles in a democracy is the equal consideration of the preferences and interests of all citizens. This is expressed in such principles as one-person/one-vote, equality before the law, and equal rights of free speech. Equal consideration of the preferences and needs of all citizens is fostered by equal political activity among citizens; not only equal voting turnout across significant categories of citizens but equality in other forms of activity.


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