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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Democracy and planning for the long-term : the case for better representing the current generation Iselin, Rama Kiosh


Climate change and other long-term problems have proven to be particularly difficult for democracies to address. Why is that? One explanation favoured by some political theorists, is that future citizens do not have a voice in the democratic process. Several innovative institutional mechanisms have been proposed to address this issue of representation. There is, however, a risk in making this argument. It provides justification for an elite few to use the rights of future citizens to trump the rights of current citizens. This essay argues that this is neither desirable nor necessary. Through an analysis of the polling and rhetoric surrounding climate change in the United States, this essay argues that rather than a lack of representation of future citizens, it is the underrepresentation of the future interests of current citizens that is leading to a lack of long-term planning. Interestingly, this insight leads me to support many of the same institutional mechanisms these theorists propose, but for an entirely different reason: they help us get closer to what current citizens want. The power of this argument is not only that it is more accurate, but also that it replaces an imaginary interest group with a real one.

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