With election day soon upon us, millions of Americans will go to the polls to vote for their
favorite politico. And millions won’t. In an off-year election, the numbers drop tremendously, and even more so with the citizenry just burnt out on endless campaigns and empty promises. It’s a sad comment on our participatory democracy that well, it’s not such a democracy even if we participate in our constitutional right to vote, but the good news is that every day, voter or not, you’re exercising your political will. How, you might ask?
By shopping. Yes, shopping. Americans, indeed, EVERYONE, loves to shop. Is it the hunter-gatherer in our genes? Who knows. All I know is it’s fun and relaxing. Relaxing, you say? But I’m exhausted when I get home from a day of shopping! Yes, but it’s a good exhaustion and you got your mind off stuff. Plus, you’re not sitting. Well, unless you’re shopping online. Get some exercise, people–go to the mall or downtown! When I worked long hours, a couple of hours at the mall, looking at windows and displays was enough to help me wind down.
So, what’s the point? It’s occurred to me, and some others in case you think I’m trying to be original, that as a consumer driven society, what we buy is as much of a political message as who we vote for in the polling booth. Actually more so. For instance, look at the gluten-free rage that’s currently upon us. Somehow food manufacturers got the message that we want to be free of gluten and have rushed to our aid, sort of anyway, and declared everything from bread and cakes to olive oil gluten free. Yes, I know, there’s no gluten in olive oil, but they will stop at nothing for our dollars. I’m waiting myself for a gluten-free car.
Be that as it may, when was the last time the buffoons in Washington even listened to what any of us wanted never mind reacted so quickly and completely.
So has the checkout counter become the new polling booth? Do we even want to go there? Yes, I think we do want to and already have, the question is, will we use our power as consumers and our collective will to make society what we want it to be?
It’s not the first time we’ve had this power, we’ve always had the power to purchase or not. But as society has become hooked on making money through consumer products and services, never has shopping been such an economic force, indeed a necessity to the nation’s economic health. Perhaps unwittingly we’ve been handed this power on a silver platter, or at least a silver credit card, and encouraged–no–besieged to use it. Every time we react (or not) to an ad, a commercial, we’re exercising our political will.
So, the next time you’re bemoaning the pesticides in your food or cosmetics or how everything’s made in China, or how research money’s being used, or the quality of your medical care, or the job shortage in America, or high prices and low quality, remember, you DO have a voice about that, and you make your opinion known every time you hand over your hard-earned money. Is this really what you want or how you want to be treated? Think about that.
See, voting CAN be fun!