Representative Government & Symbolism

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.

Vote Local.

The Politics of Human Sacrifice

Contributed by Josh Fryfogle

I’ve gotten the question, “Are you gonna run for an office?”

I mean, I am campaigning, so I get it.

“You could end up in a real position someday!”

Well, I am flattered, but, uh… Have you seen what we do to those we elect?  Have you seen what we’ve done to families and friends near those people?

We treat our elected officials like fodder for a rumor mill.  These people work for us!  We are the worst bosses of all time, joining in on the melee.  If it weren’t for our short attention spans and general apathy, it would be unbearably cruel to them.

It’s like the modern day Roman Colosseum… of the Mind!

We display their lives, show their weaknesses, curse them, blame them for failure - it’s a bloodbath.  

Consider the contempt that might create amongst the elect towards the People - our public servants towards the public.  Some unsuspecting but presumably sincere citizen takes on the task of public service, a triumphant winner of an election, cheered along by willing supporters.  

Then, everything changes.

We send them off in fanfare, but should they fail, even in their private lives, we publicly shame them!
Nope, not a job I want.  We, the Employers, need to do a better job at this self-governance thing.

But we want a hero!  Someone to slay the dragons!  Someone to lead us into battle!

A symbol of the best of us, a savior to the rest of us!

I imagine the Roman Gladiators must have felt a similar relationship with the people of their time.  They were surely treated as gods among men.  They probably were indulged in every vice and pleasure, made to feel honored wherever they went, relieved of worldly worries - it must have been great!  

Until it was time to be killed in public.  

Imagine the feelings they felt, knowing that the same adoring public would cheer at their death. 

We see the same mentality among ancient South American cultures, where we’ve learned that they practiced human sacrifice. The ‘victims’ were seen as giving their lives for the community.  Public service, if you will.

Now we are not nearly as cruel these days.  We’ve toned it down a bit.  We don’t kill our heroes to please the gods anymore.  We are more civilized, and modern.  We just disgrace them publicly, dragging their entire families down from the pedestals we placed them on.  And their sacrifice is never sufficient, either.  We have these public pedestals, and there will always be more who are willing to be placed there, thinking it will be different for them.  And maybe it will.  I mean, we’re modern, and sophisticated, right?

We do our bloodletting in other ways, while our leaders play a role that the human psyche is all too comfortable with.  It’s human nature that we want our saviors to succeed or die trying.  Those trusted few, who we send to battle, to return triumphant or not at all.  

Of course this flies in the face of a supposedly self-governed People.  This is completely inconsistent with the ideas and ideals that shaped our society.  We have simply reverted to our base instincts.  And while we are distracted with the spectacle of it all, our real concerns and interests are not served.  Not at all.  Instead, we get dramatic distractions - bread and circuses.

This campaign - the Vote Local campaign - is a real political campaign.  But I hope it’s not like anything you are used to.  My role as candidate is my artistic expression, not to insult those who we elect, but to bring attention to the fact that our nation, our country, was supposed to be different.  We were supposed to rise above the brutality of the past.  We were supposed to realize mankind’s higher functions.  Instead, we have reverted to the base barbarism we arrogantly forget is our shared history.  My role as ‘candidate’ in this campaign is purely symbolic, not only of our psychological need for a hero, but of the futility of the same.

I am not condemning the People.  I am one of you.  Your weakness is mine, too.  That’s the point of my ‘candidate’ persona.  What does it even mean, in a free society, to be elected?  Does it mean expanded power or restricted?  Does it mean public servant, or public master?  

And if we have it backwards, how do we move forward?

Again, I truly believe it is as simple as where you spend your money.  That’s your vote, and it counts.

The basis of this nation’s system of government was not to consolidate power, but the opposite.  The whole point of having different ‘States’, as referenced in the United 'States' of America, was that the same rule of law for everyone was too blunt, with the brunt bore by the individual.  An unbearable burden, the People deserved liberty, and the best way to do that was to diversify the power structure - localizing the power.  But more than that, this liberty was further ensured through the acknowledgement of the rights of the individual, given by a Creator.  This idea that each individual had certain inalienable rights (or responsibilities) was revolutionary.  The American Dream was, and always will be, the entrepreneur who can determine their own future!  Yet we cast it aside so blasé, unimpressed with this honorable heritage we’ve been given.  We trade it for the more comfortable traditions of blood thirst, televised with the support of corporate America.

But, seriously, how does spending money locally have any effect on this problem?  How can I suggest that this problem can be remedied by such a simple action?  Further, how can I suggest that base human nature might be reversed by simply spending money with locally owned businesses?  

These two topics are not as disparate as you might think.

This nation is "Of The People, By The People, For The People".  Instead, we want to give that responsibility to someone else, and hold them accountable when society is askew.  We want to get everything we can from the situation, without regard to others.  We lack empathy.  We borrow from the future, and then wonder why there is poverty.

We blame the poor for poverty.  We blame the addict for addiction.  We blame the politicians for politics, as usual.

But really, poverty is a condition of a devalued currency - economic.

Addiction is a condition of a black market - economic.

Politics, as usual is a condition of special interests - economic.

It’s all about the money.  It’s always about the money.  Where you spend it, how you borrow it, how it’s created to begin with…

As I move forward with this campaign, I want you to know that I am not making any promises.  I am asking you to make a promise to yourself.  And it’s not a big promise.  I am not even asking you to take any specific action.  I am only asking you to simply think about your purchases, and adjust as you see fit!  Think about where your money goes, and what happens with it after you invest it through spending.  Consider that you are casting a vote, a real vote, and the system of self-governance that makes our nation unique is still in effect through this mechanism - even while we are watching and waiting for the next trending topic.

While we’re all distracted with Palin, Trump, Obama, or whoever else we can watch squirm under the knife of public scrutiny, that old human nature is showing itself.  We might blame the politicians, but in the end it’s We, the People, who will pay.

Vote Local.

Putting The Money Back In Politics

By Josh Fryfogle

Dollar Voting is the concept that spending money has a political result.  In contrast, voting in an election is the equalizer - no matter how rich or poor, your vote is the same. We only get one vote each. However, voter turnout in the voting booth is low, just like public confidence in the system itself. We blame the politicians, no matter who we elect, because little seems to change.

Passing The Buck!

The truth is that our elected representatives could never solve the problems. None of them. The false expectation that they ever could is the real problem. Think about it like this - our government exists because of commerce...  

Commerce creates taxes.

Taxes create government.

Government uses taxes to create infrastructure. 

Infrastructure creates more commerce.  

And the cycle starts all over again...

If it weren’t for the money we spend, there would be nothing to govern!

How often do you consider the political implications of your spending habits?

Dollar Voting is a real thing, with real, immediate results.  Perhaps politics, and the drama created by corporate media around politics, has left you with apathy for the whole thing.  Who can blame you?  You are the majority!  Democratically speaking, your lack of engagement in the process is a vote of no confidence!  

However, you still vote every day.  Dollar Voting is prevalent, constant, and we all do it.

This is how change will happen, with your spending.

The Buck Stops Here

Lately a lot has happened regarding money in politics.  The Citizens United v. FEC ruling from the Supreme Court in 2010 established that corporations and unions could spend as much as they choose, to affect the political conversation.  However, there is still a limit on individual donations to candidates for office.  This contrast created a clearer picture of where political power is sourced.  Money.  Always has been, always will be.  And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  It’s only bad when the average person doesn’t realize that they are voting - Dollar Voting - all the time!

Unions, non-profit organizations, corporations, they spend money to make a statement.  So do you.  So do I.  Money Talks.

Money Talks - Money Equals Free Speech

Without money, there is no government.  The ideal democracy, philosophically speaking, is just as unattainable as utopia.  A beautiful idea, that gets a little dirty in the real world.  Practical and pragmatic concerns will always take the lead, and they do so by way of taxation and representation.  People who pay taxes have a vested interest.  They make their voices heard to our representatives.  When we spend our money with someone who owns a local business, we are increasing their influence in our community.  Not because of the personal wealth they keep for themselves, but because of the money they spend - and the taxes that creates.

Opponents of the Citizens United ruling are worried, for good reason, that corporations have taken the Dollar Votes of the people through their corporate entities, and redirected those dollar votes towards furthering their financial interests.  Meanwhile, the media hypes elections as the be-all-end-all of democracy, separating the concept of spending from politics for the average person.  

You Get What You Pay For

In the end, we get what we pay for.  This is true in every capacity.  You might be oblivious to Citizens United, or you might think its the priority, but your personal spending is the only political voice you really have.  No matter who you elect, they can only represent you in the world your Dollar Voting has built.  

The government you’ve given them to administer is nothing more than the taxes collected from the money you’ve spent.  

Getting Down To Business

Local business owners are naturally more attuned to the subtleties of their community, and the unique dispositions of the people who live here. So, it's really simple. Local business owners are much more likely to consider these nuances of our community, and better serve the best interest of us all.

By shopping locally, we empower the people who have already taken the risk on our community.  They have already invested in us.   

They live here too, what's good for them is good for you.

It just makes sense that we would trade with each other.

And the best part? If you don't like what they've done, you'll see them around town. They'll see you too. We have to face each other, as neighbors. We can’t blame the home office!  We can’t blame the suits!  We are in this together.  This is an important dynamic, possibly the most important, driving our local economy and shaping our local politics.

When the local government derives most of its tax funding from outside sources, there is less connectivity to the community. It creates an imbalance. It can only dilute the influence of local people.  

Think about that.

An All Or Something Proposition

It's not an all or nothing thing.

The solution isn't that everyone stop shopping at Big Box Stores or Online. The solution is to simply think about every purchase we make, and be aware that we are casting a vote, and that it has a political effect.  Everyone has a right and responsibility to vote their conscience.

Nothing big.  Just think about it.  Adjust accordingly. 

Vote Local!

Somebody's Gotta Kiss the Babies!

This campaign has been so much fun! 

Speaking candidly, I am not a candidate, but somebody’s gotta kiss the babies!

Any good political campaign is built around the persona of some person. Truthfully, people vote for personality over everything else.  

Is that bad?  

That’s to bedetermined, but why not have fun with it!? And in the process, communicate an idea that changes minds.

We could psychoanalyze what makes people tick regarding politics, but that’s just more ideas.

Ideas don't kiss babies and ideas don’t stand on the corner of Parks and Crusey, waving signs.

There I was, on the corner of Parks Highway and Crusey Street, in downtown Wasilla.  There at Wasilla Lake, looking like an idiot waving a blank sign that would later be photoshopped – learning about human nature. 

A blank white sign held above my head, Cecil Sanders laughing with me from across the lot.  He took the photos, while I stood there - way out of my comfort zone - waving hands, signs, and smiling.  

And people honked!  Over and over!

See, people don’t care about ideas.  People care about people.  People like to see other people standing up for something, anything - even nothing!

Am I blaming them for not being more informed?  Am I saying the average voter isn’t qualified to vote?  Nope, not at all.

I am saying that the political theater that plays out online, on screen, and on demand is not nearly as impactful as our daily purchases.  ‘Dollar Voting’ is a powerful political action.  Even the supreme court recently determined that money equals free speech, so-

No. Too serious, too soon.  

I promise to get into the serious side of this campaign in 2016. For now, let’s just enjoy the season.  As the old saying goes, time is money.  Spend it wisely - on your family and community - and please enjoy these pictures of little baby Zelda Burkhart, who brings joy to my heart! 

Merry Christmas!


Publisher Campaigns on Local Issues

By Josh Fryfogle, Publisher

My title might be tongue-in-cheek, but the focus of this article is serious.

While I am not running for office, this is a real campaign about real issues.

I am indeed announcing a campaign, and it is both an advertising campaign and a political one.  If you’ve ever been involved in politics at all, you already know the relationship between advertising and politicking.  They often interact anyway - this campaign will only make that clearer. 

At the heart of it all is money, and a local economy.  A local economy is made stable by a broad base of vendors and producers.  People who sell things, and people who make things.  

In Alaska, the less we produce, the more we depend on outside sources for basic necessities.  It is a precarious situation, to say the least.  The vendors, local business owners, are all too aware.  But we can make a difference, and it’s easier than you might think!

Dollar Voting

Dollar Voting will be a central theme to a larger campaign.  

Basically, we vote for what we want more of, every time we spend a dollar - that’s the idea.  

As we approach the holidays, we will be spending a lot more than usual.  We will be voting as well.  

And just like voting,
you deserve a sticker!  

Hey, get one for the kids, too!

Buy something from one of the businesses advertised on page 2 and 3, think of them as polling places!  Cast your vote!

There is a lot of ground to cover in this campaign - many topics that we will deal with as this campaign continues.  But in the meantime, enjoy your holiday season.  

Look for our message in the windows of these local businesses, and get your sticker at checkout.  Wearing the sticker is a real-world viral marketing

Let people know that it’s time to vote, and it’s time to vote local!  Your vote matters!

Together we can build a strong local economy - the gift that keeps on giving!

Have a happy Thanksgiving!