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When contemporary politicians talk about democracy, they’ll generally talk about freedom. They’ll talk about rights. And they’ll talk about government. What they don’t often talk about is equality. In fact, discussions about equality in 21st-century America tend to view it as somehow opposed to our other national values. But even before Thomas Jefferson and the signers of the Declaration of Independence asserted our “inalienable rights,” they declared that “all men are created equal.” Why did the country’s Founding Fathers feel that equality was necessary to the American experiment? What is the relationship between equality and democracy? Institute for Advanced Study political philosopher Danielle Allen, winner of the fifth annual Zócalo Book Prize for Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality, visits Zócalo to discuss the meaning of equality, and what happens to us and to our communities when we lose sight of its importance.
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