Democracy By Whom? For Whom?
Cleisthenes, the father of Athenian Democracy, enacted reforms—known as isonomia, or “equality through law”—which dramatically decreased nepotism and increased governmental representation of the Athenian people. We like to believe that our country’s brand of democracy has always followed ancient Greek ideals, but George Washington believed that only the “lower class of people” should serve as foot soldiers in the Continental Army. Thomas Jefferson envisioned his public schools educating talented students “raked from the rubbish” of the lower class. And John Adams believed the “passion for distinction” was a powerful human force: “There must be one, indeed, who is the last and lowest of the human species.” The truth is, our founding fathers intended for many people to be left out of the social contract.