What Is Prospective Democracy?

cropped-child-in-arms

Painting by Carolyn Fehsenfeld

 

Who’s thinking about the world our children will inherit?

Get the kids up and off to school and daycare, drive to work, work your shift, shop, drive home, get food on the table, help with homework, clean the house, make a home repair, check email, pay the bills, catch some TV, sleep. Get up and do it again.

Parents are busy people, but somewhere in their schedules they make sure their kids get a healthy diet, go to their doctor visits, learn good values, and have some family fun time together. Parents care, but who has the time, energy, or knowledge to think about the world they will inherit from us when they have kids of their own?

What will the world of 2037 look like?

Globalization. Automation. Cyber attacks. Aging populations. Inequality. Climate change. Infrastructure. Healthcare. Education.  Job growth. Affordable housing. Immigration. Artificial intelligence. Genetic manipulation. Government deficits and debt.

The list of concerns for the next generation is long and we can’t attack them on our own. Government is supposed to do the things that people can’t do for themselves. It’s the way we take collective action.

As government works on–or ignores–these issues, the future of America’s 73 million children is being written into laws, programs and policies at every level. Until they can vote at 18, children have no say over the decisions that affect them. For those born this year, that will be 2037!

What would it take to create a government that took seriously the interests and needs of those too young to vote, one that was prospective in taking a long view of its actions?

Aren’t elected officials supposed to be thinking ahead?

Do members of Congress, legislatures, city councils, mayors, governors and the president think about the next couple decades as they make decisions? Are they taking the welfare of the next generation to heart?

Probably not. Our representatives are swamped with urgent constituent problems to solve, budgets to pass, staffs to manage, money to raise for the next election, and a 24 hour news cycle full of hot button issues that demand their attention NOW. There is little time or energy to think beyond the next election.

prospectivedemocracy.org

This website is dedicated to exploring the idea of a democratic government that takes the long-view in its actions. I hope you will join me in this journey by subscribing to the blog, spreading news about it with friends and on social media, and contributing your ideas.

Take a minute to read and comment on the Essay. To find updates, visit Tom’s Blog. If you subscribe, it will be delivered to your email. To learn about me, please see About Me. You can contact me at tfehsen1@jhu.edu or @tomfehsenfeld.

Thanks!

Tom Fehsenfeld