Monday, November 2, 2015

Rock the Non-Presidential Vote


When it comes to my personal environmental impact efforts--reducing the waste that I produce, not buying plastics, etc.--it can be hard to keep up motivation because my meager little tactics often feel so heartbreakingly pitiful. So I didn't use a plastic bag today. Millions of other people did! Doing things like bringing my own containers to stores and restaurants, making my own personal care products, and avoiding all sorts of entertainment and convenience items can feel like a great effort for not much reward.

One small thing that can make an outsized difference is voting. That said, voting in national elections can also feel laughably futile (cf. that study that the U.S. is no longer a democracy and looks more like an oligarchy now).

One potential solution? Voting in local elections. I never used to vote in non-presidential election years because I was too lazy to research the candidates, but now I love to. An individual vote can count a lot in a local election, both because the number of voters in each particular locality is relatively small, and because a smaller proportion of voters tend to show up to the polls when there's no presidential madness. You get more bang for your vote. Local politics can also be more satisfying because there's more scope for change. Smaller-size governments have more flexibility to adapt and experiment. It would be hard to imagine the United States enacting a countrywide plastic bag ban, but numerous cities and counties and one state (Hawaii) have them on the books now.

I'm planning to vote tomorrow in my local election for city council. If you are not already planning to vote tomorrow, it is not too late to find out if there is an election in your area, research candidates, and make a plan to hit the polls.

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