Sunday, October 24, 2004

Votes that matter

Now I'm not trying to say here that votes cast in this election are meaningless, nor that it is irrelevent what the outcomes of the election are. Don't get me wrong on that one. But...

Every minute of every day, every one of us is casting far more influential votes in each action we take, every dollar we spend, every resource we use, everything we do that affects another person. The cumulative power of all these billions of little votes shapes the nature and direction of society far more than do the elected representatives. Those representatives mostly just follow the trends, surf the waves created by the forces around them.

You want a greener world? Live a greener life. You want a smaller government? Stop using so many government services: go off the grid, stop driving so many miles on government subsidized roads, take care of your own personal protection, educate your own kids. You want a fairer and more equitable world? Then be fair and work for groups that build this world directly. Don't expect political machinations to ever accomplish your ideal for you.

Two reasons why voting with your feet and your dollars is more effective than the ballot box:

1. You can't ever control other people. But you can control yourself.

2. It's not a winner-take-all situation. Everything you do influences the situation, no matter how small a minority you are. Every gallon of fuel you do NOT burn directly reduces the national demand for imported oil. Every mile you do not drive directly reduces the demands for road building and maintenance. Every can of tuna you give to the food bank directly feeds a hungry person. Every imported sofa you buy adds directly to the demand for more trucks on the highways. Every organic chicken you purchase directly supports organic farmers. Every person you are not rude to directly reduces the level of background aggression. Every suburban house you do not buy, chosing instead to renovate an existing house, directly reduces suburban sprawl. And as the mob shifts, the government follows.

Remember this on election day. And remember it even more the day after, if the results of the election appear to have turned out horribly badly. You have far more power than just those little holes you punch in pieces of cardboard every year or so. And your failure to live in accord with your own principles does more harm than the vote that your neighbor cast for the wrong candidate will ever do.


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