There are times when I think this is incredibly foolish, given the very contradictory way our economy runs and how faith-based everything is, but there was something hopeful in the way he shopped and the value he put on his spending habits. No matter how hard I try to be efficient and not let myself get carried away with buying into my dad’s philosophies, I find myself doing the exact same things he did, driving to the Wisconsin border to buy gas, shopping at four different grocery stores, and “rewarding” worthy businesses with my purchases.
Yet, despite how passionately my father felt about his power over the economy, he refused to register to vote. This was a point of contention between us for most of my life, and I never did get him to understand that he’d always been voting for things with each calculated purchase he made, but he wouldn’t vote for people who could actually make a bigger difference in our world. He refused to believe that voting mattered, and we would argue about it on the long drives we took to places he felt worthy of giving his business to. It drove me completely nuts. How could someone be so blind to all the voting we do every day, yet refuse to vote for people and issues that govern our lives?
Given that I’m a voter registrar through my job, it’s something I feel very strongly about, and I’m adding something very important to my sidebar for anyone who visits this blog. Rock the Vote offers an online voter registration process, where you can register for the first time, or reregister a change of address or a change of name, and you never even have to leave your house. (Except to mail the form.) It’s awesome! I give you the widget of your future!
I know that many of my readers vote, and perhaps one or two of you may register to vote this year because of the national election, and maybe this will be the first time for someone, too. If so, fabulous! I just hope as many people as possible get out and make their opinions count.
Once I accomplish that, perhaps we can work out carpools for people who do what I do, which is to buy my usual stuff at a co-op, my pasture-fed meats at Sunset Foods, my organic foods at Trader Joe’s, my produce and other locally grown items from farmers’ markets, and sale items at any grocery store kind enough to reduce their costs. My motivation is not always sales and best prices, clearly. It’s about quality goods, keeping my money fueling the local economy instead of sending the profits across the country or across the world, and trying to provide a steady stream of business to people and businesses that believe in higher standards. My free-range, omega-3 eggs are expensive, but I prefer knowing the chickens live better lives, eat a more natural diet, and provide me with a better product. That’s how I vote. It’s what my father taught me. It’s how I convince myself that I matter in this world.
I hope you feel like you matter too. Even if you don’t make an effort to vote with your dollars, vote with your head and make your opinion matter in the upcoming election.
< /soapbox speech >