Did you vote this past weekend? Or today? Big voting this time of year. In fact, it ’s the busiest time of year for voting. Millions, if not billions, of votes will be caste by the end of the day today and for the next several weeks. Gotta vote. I hope you got out there and voted. But wait, midterms were several weeks ago, voting is over, right?
Midterms did pass several weeks ago and many of us were caught in the frenzy of politics and civic duties. Election time is generally very intense — divisiveness, issues rallied behind, principles questioned and considered, heated debating, celebrating and commiserating.
During that time I was engaged in conversations with many people from around the US and the globe. The big question was, “Are you voting?” After listening to the pleas around the importance of participating in democracy (the US is a republic by the way, but really more of an oligarchy). My response has been, “I vote every time I buy something and so do you.” So then question becomes, “How are you voting?” This question is for more than people of legal voting age or of American citizenship. Anytime anyone across the planet buys a product from an American Company, they (you) are casting a vote in the functioning of the American government (and much more than that).
It’s important for us to consider that casting ballots in a box is not the only way we vote. Perhaps there are other types of voting, which happen more frequently and with greater impact. Let’s dissect this idea a bit, starting with the word, “vote.”
Definition: vote — n., a formal expression of opinion or choice, either positive or negative, made by an individual or bodies of individuals.
With this definition we can move to interesting places, far beyond politics — but first, politics. Policy in the United States is largely influenced by our cash ballots, perhaps in more so than our electoral ballots (corporate money certainly leverages its weight on politicians which effect our legislation. Some estimates suggest that there could be up to 100,000 lobbyists in the US which is part of a $9 billion dollar annual industry.) Now is the time to get hip to the game and realize that our dollar votes have just as much impact and that goes beyond policy.
We vote environment with our food and clothing choices.
We vote health care with our beauty and house cleaning products.
We vote social based on what the parent company’s (of whatever completely necessary product we buy) agenda is.
We vote international labor when we buy luxury garments or chocolate.
We vote animal rights when buying a car or belt.
We vote American jobs every time we buy something made in the USA.
And on, and on.
So, how do we take our principles and ethics to our daily cash voting booths? Must we investigate the integrity of every company? Must we make sure that whenever we go somewhere we know what campaigns the parent company donates to? Is it easy to just not think about these things?
As challenging as it is, there are ways that we can match our principles with our dollar votes. Two useful smartphone applications are: Buycott and Good On You. These apps allow you to align your principles with your cash votes. They are simple, easy and fast. If you are concerned about where your money goes (and overwhelmed attempting to research every choice) then these apps are for you.
Equip with these useful apps we can then choose where our money goes and how it is making a national and global impact. The challenge becomes when we have to change our lifestyle to match our principles. It’s worth the shift; it’s worth the evaluation; it’s worth the change.
By taking a step back from Holiday voting (spending) — and sinking into what we stand for, what type of world we want to create and what sort of environment we want to leave for future generations — we can choose wisely and perhaps even ethically.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year and the most important time of the year when it comes to voting. Caste your ballots wisely.