Scholars have often claimed that democracies, whatever their virtues, are functionally short-sighted. The evidence is clear: we have been unable to manage many long-term issues including climate change, nuclear waste disposal, natural disaster preparedness, infrastructure maintenance, and budget deficits. If voters and influential actors, such as interest groups and corporations, have dominant short-term interests, it may be difficult for elected politicians to act in the long-term interests of society, even if they think that it would be the right thing to do. To solve long-term problems, do we need political systems that are less democratic, or even authoritarian? This idea, which Michael K. MacKenzie calls the democratic myopia thesis, is a sort of conventional wisdom; it is an idea that scholars and pundits take for granted as a truth about democracy without subjecting it to adequate critical scrutiny. In Future Publics, MacKenzie challenges this conventional wisdom and articulates a deliberative, democratic theory of future-regarding collective action. Specifically, MacKenzie argues that each part of the democratic myopia problem can be addressed through democratic-rather than authoritarian-means. At a more fundamental level, once we recognize that democratic practices are world-making activities that empower us to make our shared worlds together, they should also be understood as future-making activities. Despite the short-term dynamics associated with electoral democracy, MacKenzie asserts that we need more inclusive and deliberative democracies if we are going to make shared futures that will work for us all.
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