I was catching up on some podcasts this weekend and I heard a particularly interesting one — Ezra Klein interviewing Astra Taylor. The conversation is wide-ranging, but there were a few bits that stuck out to me.
Astra talked about the differences between democracies, aristocracies, and lotteries, and discussed the idea of every citizen serving in the political body at some point. Not entirely a new point, but one thing that stood out was that there’s nobody in the political body who’s sole job it is to mind the “future.” As in, where’s the Congressperson or MP who’s elected to represent the people who have yet to be born? And I don’t mean the choice/life dichotomy, I mean — what about the child who’ll be born three generations from now and has a right to clean air and water.
She also raised the point that some could make the argument that we’re violating the Constitutional rights of people not born, yet (/mind–blown!).
I want to circle back to the Congressperson/MP to be the one minding the future. Of course, there isn’t someone like this (at least not in any of the political bodies I’ve seen), but wouldn’t it be cool if there were? Wouldn’t it be cool if we had an “at-large MP” who were part of the House of Commons and there sole role was to take into account (or represent?) the interests of the people who were to be born seven generations from now (I don’t think I’ve talked about this on here, but there’s a whole movement around “for the next seven generations“).
And this made me think about some of the founding documents of our nations. Take, for instance, the US Congress. By all accounts, there’s quite a bit of intransigence in the way the system is arranged. Some argue that this is intentional and some argue that the business of government has ground to a halt. What if… what if we were to remake the business of government in the US? I know, I know, it would never fly, but let’s just imagine a world where we can redesign the Senate, redesign the House, etc. Would it look the same after we were done? Probably not. Would we include representation for people who are to be born seven generations from now? Also, probably not, but I’d like to think that maybe we would. Maybe we would think beyond ourselves in this moment about those who will inhabit the space in the years to come.