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John Stuart Mill

Friend to liberty and philosopher of diversity, John Stuart Mill remains an intriguing democratic theorist. Although he is best remembered for his utilitarianism, I believe his greatest contribution to modern thought is his emphasis on the educative and idealistic components of democracy. Better than any of his contemporaries, Mill painted democracy as an almost spiritual force, one that cultivated virtue and independence in its citizens and progress in its societies. Before JFK invoked the power of the frontier, Mill articulated the need for common endeavor in democratic society.

Mill's faith in and love for both the democratic process, as the best means of preserving liberty, diversity, individuality, and civic identity, and democratic progress, as the best means of elevating individuals to a higher state of integrity, inclusion, and compassion, recall the best in our own democratic experiment. Like no other philosopher, Mill makes real the promise of democratic life.

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