Each day of the month of April leading up to Earth Day (April 22), I will be offering a suggestion for how we can really honor the Earth this year. This list will go beyond the usual suggestions to change your light bulbs and take shorter showers. Instead, the focus is on collective action working toward radical social change.
When we think about what we can do to protect the biosphere and the web of life, we are conditioned to think about our reducing own consumption. But individual choice only gets us so far.
We need need government regulation to change the available options before we even get to the point where people can have a choice. We can’t buy fuel-efficient vehicles, for example, until companies are incentivized to actually make them—and to make them affordable. We can’t reduce the amount of time we spend driving, unless our cities and suburbs actually have the necessary infrastructure—sidewalks, public transit, zoning that allows jobs and housing and shopping to coexist.
Even then, most emissions are caused by things that individual consumers don’t have any control over—decisions that are made for us, not by us. The system is driven by big money. The way to change the system is to change the way money influences the system.
Individual consumers don’t have the power to do this. But voters do. We need responsible citizens even more than we need responsible consumers. One thing you can do to honor the Earth this Earth Day is to vote responsibly.
Voting responsibly means knowing how your elected officials are influenced by big money. Campaign politics tends to focus on issues: where the candidates say they stand. Politicians will say a lot of things to get elected, but how they act once they are in office is really driven by campaign contributions. Unfortunately, few of us know how our own elected officials are influenced by money.
To find out where your elected officials get their money, click on this link to opensecrets.org/states/ and find out who has bought your elected officials.
Explore the rest of the site to find out more about how big money is influencing politics. Then vote responsibly!