I was recently talking to a friend who is not particularly political but who like (nearly) everyone is feeling the pinch of the economy and has become increasingly concerned with the direction of the country.
“What can be done?” he asked. “Vote? Voting doesn’t seem to do much.”
I disagreed, voting still, even now affects things. There is a very good case for just opting out and not voting and thereby not perpetuating the system, but on the whole I think voting is still important, especially as the iron grip of the 2 parties is lessened. I’d like to opt out and change things that way but I think that being engaged moves things forward more quickly.
But it’s true that in many elections our votes mean next to nothing. It’s also true that our votes are often negated by fraud. (I know, I know it doesn’t exist.) So is there anything else we can do to affect positive change besides showing up on election day?
There are dozens of things we can do of course but one place an individual can have significant impact almost immediately is the consumer marketplace.
Your dollar may be more powerful than your vote. In fact for most people it nearly always is. What you choose to spend your money on sends a powerful message.
Don’t like GMOs? Don’t eat them. Don’t like t-shirts made in Vietnam under slave conditions? Don’t buy them. Don’t like the big banks? Don’t do business with them. Think a company is polluting and hurting the planet, choose another company’s products or abstain from the product. Think a company is exploiting crony connections to the detriment of consumers? Find a non-crony alternative and reward that non-crony company with your business. Don’t think a restaurant pays its workers enough. Don’t eat burgers there.
The level needed for critical mass in the marketplace is much lower than in the voting booth, especially nowadays. In a supermarket for instance each purchase is tracked and trends (often) are examined in real time. The store knows what is selling. As such the store will seek to satisfy any spikes in demand.
This can be used to our advantage and if shopping is done “consciously” the world can be made a bit better.
So take a moment to make sure your cereal, meat, beer, car, housing choice, etc. reflects what you desire in the world. It takes a small bit of effort, but the rewards can be significant. Your dollar vote absolutely counts.