Young people tend to think their vote doesn’t matter (compared to the views of older Americans).
Which is a shame. Because their cynicism is directly tied to public policy, which favors older Americans and, quite frankly, is responsible for younger ones getting the shaft these days.
But it is what it is. If young Americans don’t care enough to vote, then I’m not about to feel sorry for them when their government sticks it to them. Decisions have consequences. Both good and bad. Surely they can’t be so stupid not to realize that.
I also don’t get worked up about it because I realize being politically active involves more than voting. A whole lot more. In fact, the case can be made that our vote is a minor political act in the overall scheme of things.
So what’s potentially even more important than voting?
For one thing, money. More precisely, how we earn it and spend it.
These are the decisions that permeate our lives. And also permeate the market, commerce, investments and public policy in a myriad of less conspicuous ways. But highly impactful ways nonetheless.
Money reflects priorities. And sets priorities. Indeed, the power of the pocketbook is greater than the power of most politicians. By a wide margin.
Money is the means by which we reward certain businesses, nonprofits and activities, and penalize — and sometimes kill off — others.
Yet I wonder how many people take money as seriously as their vote when it comes to politics. Undoubtedly, some people do, but I bet most don’t.
I’ve decided to become more politically active with my money. It started a few years back, but my personal movement has been picking up steam lately, propelled, in part, by the excesses of our market economy and the lunacy and threat posed by corporations and incredibly selfish and shortsighted elites, including our current president.
So while I still intend to vote (and can’t imagine why so many people don’t), I’m going to try to put voting into better perspective, which means it will take its rightful place as a minor political act.
So what else do I intend to do?
Here are a few things:
- Never invest in an oil or gas company, chemical company (yes, I know, I used to be the CEO of one), social media company (Facebook being the prime culprit), casino, defense contractor or spirits company (the booze kind, not Halloween costumes or makers of Ouija boards)
- Never buy a lottery ticket (i.e., don’t participate in a system that does considerable harm to poor and working class people)
- Minimize my purchase of gasoline (walk and bike even more, drive even less)
- Use cloth bags and go bagless as much as possible, avoiding those environmentally senseless plastic bags
- Never donate to a nonprofit that hasn’t demonstrated a sincere commitment to its mission by the way they spend their money and also demonstrates competency (which eliminates most but not all nonprofits)
- Donate to people and organizations that are effective at standing in the way of evil and idiocy (e.g., the ACLU and NGOs that are combating global warming, which could threaten humans’ very existence)
- Buy books written by thoughtful people who are calling attention to the illusions and lies that are threatening our planet and the well-being of people and nature generally (even if I can’t read them all)
- Move into a smaller house, with geothermal heating and solar panels if feasible (I’m hoping the guy next door will sell me his property so I can build a more suitable house there, but I concede this is a goal that may take a while to achieve.)
- Patronize stores that treat their employees well (e.g., Costco) and avoid those that treat their employees like chattel
- Drink less alcoholic beverages (I’ve already nearly eliminated my purchases of spirits.)
- Eat less red meat (raising cattle in particular is an environmentally harmful activity)
- Buy eggs and milk that were collected from chickens and cows that lived in pastures (I realize this is a luxury given the premium prices these products command.)
- Buy organic
- Patronize local farmers by shifting more of my purchases to the local farmers market (a short walk from our house)
- Try not to patronize harmful idiots (in particular, those who foster and promote a culture of stupidity) and hate-mongers, meaning ignoring most of what appears on TV, cable or radio and a whole lot of print and web media
- Consistent with the immediately preceding bullet point, endeavor to not buy anything made by any company that supports Fox News (yes, I realize it’s more propaganda than news) (GEICO and Procter and Gamble are two easy targets)
- Withhold my tourism dollars from states that are harming our country (Texas probably heads this list)
- Try to think of additional ways to vote that haven’t occurred to me yet (any suggestions?)
Each of these steps, taken alone, is insignificant. And useless. But taken together, by enough people, they are powerful. And impactful. Far more than anything we can do behind a curtain on a November Tuesday.
Not that I don’t think my vote matters. I’m not an idiot — well, not entirely so. I will vote tomorrow. Against the party of stupidity, unconstrained greed and hate. The party that doesn’t care if we heat up our planet to uninhabitable levels. The party that doesn’t care if our air and water are clean. The party that loves to demonize other people. The party that fosters a culture of hate and division. The party that cares more about one thing than any other: money. Profits. Wealth. Theirs. Not anyone else’s.
Is it because I have faith in the other party? Hardly. They’re not much better. But, at least in this moment in time, they are better. At least by a smidgen. And smidgens matter when it comes to matters of survival. And well-being. And priorities. And our future. It matters a lot.
But I won’t delude myself into thinking tomorrow is that much different from any other day. I will endeavor to be more mindful of that reality than I have been in the past.
The reality is, I am voting each and every day, whether I am mindful of it or not. Each time I make a decision. About money.
I love the fact we have a vote in this country. And I intend to exercise mine a lot — indeed, every single day.