Voting with your dollars

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_D5C5045brianby Brian Clarey

This bit of political wisdom comes courtesy of my friend Johnny Wishbone, the former Portland, Ore. marijuana farmer (legit!) and current Facebook proselytizer who learned his chops, as I did, tending bar in some of New Orleans’ lowest corners.

“If voting could really change anything,” he likes to say, “it would be illegal.”

Johnny Wishbone is what I would call a Frank Zappa Republican, so far to the right that he thinks we as a nation need to take a few giant steps back to get our house in order.

And he’s got a point: Elections, particularly in our gerrymandered state, have become farcical. About half of the candidates on next week’s ballot will be assured of victory either because they are running unopposed or the demographics of their electorate guarantee it. That’s not choice.

But there is still one way in this country to ensure your voice will be heard loud and clear.

Our election system may be jacked, but our economy works just as it is supposed to — even this modified form of capitalism still must adhere to the basic tenets of supply and demand, laws as immutable as gravity.

Money is all that most people really care about, anyway.

Money is precious. Your employers dole it out to you in controlled drops; your banks keep track of it down to the tenth of a penny; you can’t exist in this society for long without a couple of bucks to rub together.

And so the expenditure of this money may be the last unassailable exercise of power left to regular Americans.

Money is oxygen to the conflagration that is capitalism. An enterprise cannot exist without it. So when you spend money at a business, you are enabling its very life force.

On the supply side, every business must expend a little oxygen of its own. For our part, we prefer to spend in the communities where we live and play.

Our in-store newspaper racks are made at a machine shop in Guilford County. Our T-shirts, available soon, are being made right now in downtown Greensboro. We print at the News & Record. Sure, a few of those dollars might make their way into Mr. Buffett’s pockets in Omaha, but most of it goes into the paychecks of our friends at the daily. We shop local, eat local and drink local, because we can see the difference our money makes.

I’m still going to cast a vote on Tuesday, and hope for the best while Johnny Wishbone laughs at me from the Florida panhandle.

But the money I spend — and where I spend it — will have much more impact than my single vote.