The role of elites within democratic governments presents democratic theorists with one of their thorniest problems. On the one hand, democracies are based upon some type of political equality among citizens -an equality which must be politically significant. On the other hand, wherever we look, we find political inequalities, sometimes great ones, within democracies. Democratic theorists have long held that there is a practical and theoretical problem concerning the place of elites within democratic polities. What is the relationship between political equality and political inequality within a democratic polity? I will argue that we cannot attain a balanced appreciation of the role elites play in political democracy until we appreciate the important distinction between democratic organizations and a democratic polity.
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