Voting with Dollars

With the German election coming up I decided to deliver daily posts about the politics of business, ecology, love and music. Today’s post is inspired by the words of Richard Linklater (from an interview I can’t find online anymore), who put an important message much better in words than I ever could hope to do:

Know just enough about the products you want to buy, and support the people who are doing it the right way. It does make a difference, because if everyone really cared then the industry goes accordingly; without consumer demand, nothing’s going to change. You have to ask the big questions and do that with almost everything you buy. We all get to vote every single day with our dollar; in elections you only get to vote every now and then.

The ending certainly implies a certain shortcoming of modern democracies that hold elections “every now and then” (every four years in Germany); yet, I don’t think the intention is to render voting in elections pointless or futile. It’s just to emphasis that living in a democratic republic isn’t like getting into a taxi and telling the driver where to go “every now and then”. Election merely help to set the general direction of the journey. Those who complain about how our politicians do their work, fail to realize that we can have a dialogue with the driver (i.e., make yourself heard at your local representative) and, unlike in a taxi, we can make a myriad of decisions that influence our ride: which fuel to use, whether to turn on the air conditioning (or to just pull down the window) and where to stop for a lunch break.

If you are convinced that voting “every now and then” is useless, you shouldn’t be surprised to find yourself in a land without gas stations and without diners somewhere down the road. Personally, I hope to see the day when gas stations deliver nothing but renewable energie and lunch breaks come with organic KIT KAT Chunky White. There’s no party that’s headed exactly into that direction. But some come pretty close, so that I should be able to achieve the critical part (sufficient organic white chocolate supplies) by spending my Euros accordingly.