In the history of earth, no one has ever washed a rented car.
For my first 10 years of voting, political action felt like renting a car. I would check the names on the ballot whose ads told me they agreed with me. It felt like that’s all I could do to help steer my country. I felt my vote for President was the most important and barely knew anything about the bottom of the ballot.
I rent the candidate and they rented my vote. If I liked the rental, I would rent again. If not, try something else. It was all transactional which felt cheap.
Voting like this also told me my country only needed me 2 days (primary and general) out of every 2 years.
And, voting obligation complete, I went back to my normal life. Work, school, family, and friends filled my time. I’d complain about things missing in my community or decisions made, but I had voted, so my obligation was complete. After all, I was nobody and knew no one in office.
Then I met someone passionate about our community and doing something about it. They introduced me to other passionate community people.
And they…..did stuff.
Some ran for office, some held office, some had skipped elections completely and just…..did stuff. Beyond talking or complaining, they tried to make things happen. They got results.
It wasn’t cheap or renting. It was very real and buying into my community. And surprisingly, it was fun. Music festivals, community events, coworking spaces, meeting friends, interacting with officials, and feeling change happen in a place I was starting to love.
Suddenly, those spots in the bottom of the ticket mattered. What those positions did mattered. Who was in those spots mattered.
100 votes swings an election that mattered to my family’s daily life. Those races at the bottom were the ones I sweated for results, I lobbied friends, took yard signs, and walked door to door.
Knowing the importance felt like I knew a secret about my home. That I was a trusted guardian of my community. Simply because I cared and wanted to be there.
The rich get to know the Congressional delegation. The powerful get to meet a President. But the caring, passionate, and present run their community. Best thing is anyone can join.
So if you care about your community, of course, please, vote on November 6th. But remember your community needs you December 6th too. And January, April, and August 6th too. You have more to give and more to gain than you’d ever suspect.
Voting. Don’t rent your vote. Buy in to your community.