Contributed by Josh Fryfogle
The English word 'politics' is rooted in the Greek word 'polis', meaning city, and the word 'polites', meaning citizen.
We know that the influence of collective organizations - corporations, lobbying groups, unions, super pacs, etc. - has shaped our society. We all know this, but why is it so? How is it made possible?
Simple: We give them our support.
We as a society give incredible sums of money to these groups, and the people in charge of those entities spend that money as they see fit. The influence that they have is based completely on the money we transfer to them by choice.
The Vote Local campaign is an effort to shift that power back to the citizen (Greek 'polites').
By spending money with locally owned business, we decrease the influence of collectivist groups, and increase the influence of local people. These are people you can look in the eye, express your feelings and thoughts with and share in societal circumstance. Try that with a corporation or a union! These behemoth organizations are far removed from reality, existing in the minds of men. They are not good or evil, but without conscience. Their 'philosophy', expressed through corporate policy, is malleable, changing with whoever is tasked with executive power. And we pay for it, by choice.
The point of this campaign is not to teach that shopping with locally owned business is 'like' voting. No, shopping with locally owned business is voting. Real action, real effect - transferring influence to real people, diversifying influence over government. Elections are just symbolic, and symbols represent things. Symbolic voting in elections yields 'Representative' government. Again, symbolism.
These elected officials are symbolic of our vote. They continue to make symbolic efforts, voting on behalf of those who choose to influence them, documenting their policy on paper with yet more symbolism. All too often, they seem to go against the will of the people, but that is because the people have transferred power to those collective entities that use that collected power to influence the system. In fact, it is not our elected leaders who betray our vote, but the collective entities that we support through our spending. They take what we give them through commerce, and use that support to increase that same commerce.
Names and nomenclature are symbolic as well. As the names change, the thoughts and ideas remain the same. The symbol of a word can only contain an idea, and only for those who are made familiar with it. For example, the word 'vote' comes from the Latin 'vovere', meaning 'vow'. When we spend money, we hand someone symbolic paper that is intrinsically worthless. Really, it's just paper, and it only has value because we believe it has value. We have faith in it. We truly believe that if we have money, we can redeem it for what we want in life. As long as everyone agrees, money does what we want it to do. But it's only paper, covered in symbols.
Every time we transfer this currency between us and another entity, we are empowering that entity to further its goals. If that entity is a human being who shares in our communal circumstance then we are likely to find common ground, both metaphorically and literally. So no matter what collective political party you find yourself in partial agreement with, a democrat and a republican that live in the same neighborhood have more in common with each other than either have with a republican or democrat in any other place.
We are truly in this together, and we would do well to remember that.
Collective entities, regardless of their differing corporate philosophies, all have in common the need to assimilate the individual, to borrow their conscience, to accept their financial support that sustains the abstraction. Without us, these entities are just lost symbols, emptied out of any meaning that they once held.
As a whole, our nation cannot and will not shift to a locally owned spending pattern. Truthfully, it would crash the system. But the system is built to crash, it is unsustainable.
In Alaska, as a micro version of a bigger economy, we need to plan for that Big Winter, preparing for all eventualities. This can be achieved by trading with locally owned companies, and asking those companies to trade with each other - always looking for a new way to do more business here. This will grease the wheels of industry, building and sustaining infrastructure that exists in reality, not just the minds of men.
Alaskans should act now, and not by bugging politicians to do it for us. The power is in our hands to make a difference, a little at a time, all the time. The politicians will go with the flow, and reflect in their symbolic actions what the people actually do, day-to-day. But the only way to measure that, the only quantifiable method, is economic activity. If we give all our financial support to collective groups, be it political parties, corporations, unions, and the like, so will our elected Representatives.
The solution is simple, represented by symbols.