“like if freedom means doing what I want, well, don’t I gotta want something?”
Relistening to the album Die The Nightmare and this line stood out to me. It highlights where my latest struggles are. I’m at a really awesome spot in life. Cool house, awesome friends, self employed. I have an unprecedented amount of freedom and stability. My needs have been met. I no longer have to work out of desperation. But how do I work when I’m not motivated by starvation? How do I fill my time when I have almost unlimited options? What do I do with my new freedom?
I have what I need, but what do I want?
Fortunately, I am starting to figure it out. I’vee been slowing down my decision making process. I’m taking the time to ask myself if I really WANT the thing I’m about to choose.
I will learn from this anxiety of freedom and I will grow.
Tomorrow many of my peers will risk their lives to check a box on a paper in hope that their ballot will be that 0.0000000079% that actually affects an election. A probability determined by some basic math you can find here.
“Risk their lives?!” you’re probably asking. Well of course! The risk of being a pedestrian struck by a car are about 1 in 4292 that’s a .0002% chance.
That’s right they’re more likely be hit by a car tomorrow than to have their vote affect the presidential election. Even if their vote was the deciding vote in the election the prevailing economic theories around public policy suggest the person who wins the election has very little effect on the actual outcomes of policy. You can find the lessons on public choice theories here and here. And ofcourse both major candidates during this election have a proven track record of communicating a position in public while holding a separate one in private or in the past.
But the real danger with voting isn’t the fact getting hit by a car is more likely than one’s vote mattering. The real danger of voting is that it gives a level of satisfaction that doesn’t reflect reality thus inspiring less meaningful action.
The problem is voting gives an illusion of impact which means voters have less reason to satisfy the desired of helping their community in other ways. The things that actually lift up disenfranchised communities are less likely to happen because the wannabe activist already “did their part” by voting. It makes voters ignore the actually impactful tactics for promoting social change opting to get their activist fulfillment through the suggestion box.
It also keeps people from building themselves up. If they can expect a state savior to bail them out of poverty or a lobbyist to help regulate our their competitors then there is less incentive to find ways to improve themselves. Every minute spent campaigning for a politician is a minute not spent loving oneself or learning a new marketable skill.
This November, don’t vote. Instead go out and volunteer at a soup kitchen. Go out and start a business that creates value for your community. Go paint a beautiful picture that communicates the struggles of disenfranchised people. Hell, go spend that 30 minutes eating pizza, yours and subsequently the overall happiness of your town with increase.