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Op-Ed: Do-It-Yourself Political Change: Tired of signing petitions?

Every Thursday, Digital Journal readers will find a new article in the Do-It-Yourself Political Change series, describing some simple steps that we can take now to be the change we wish to see in the world. If we alter our consumption habits, we stop feeding the beast, and we can spend our time and energy building our local communities and doing the things for one another that the Federal government has promised, but failed, to do, such as clean up the environment, improve education, encourage small businesses, and alleviate extreme economic disparity. We may not have any power as voters (especially if we are given a choice between Hillary and Jeb for U.S. President in 2016), but we do have power as consumers and tax-payers. Our leaders, Right and Left, have abandoned us or been beguiled or blackmailed, and it’s up to us now straighten things out.

Overcoming Apathy

U.S. 2014 midterm elections had the lowest turnout since WWII. Only 36.4% of eligible voters bothered to go to the polls, according to United States Election Project. Following the low turn-out, the Huffington Post and Bloomberg reported that voters were suffering from cynicism and learned helplessness. Accordingly, both sides of the political aisle went to work trying to improve their “messaging,” attempting to change people’s perceptions of political corruption, but did little to try to stop political corruption itself.

Apathy and cynicism is not limited to the United States. In a speech this January, British Labour leader Ed Milibrand said, “One of the biggest enemies of politics is cynicism, the belief that we are all in it for base motives.”

But perhaps the problem is not cynicism itself. Many would-be voters in the U.S., and all over the globe, may simply reject the limited choices they are given. According to a 2014 Gallup Poll, about 42% of Americans identify with neither major party, which leaves them with no one to vote for were they to go to the polls.

Cynicism is the appropriate response to global politics, according to Japan-based journalist James Corbett of the Corbett Report, who advocates free market solutions and encourages self-reliance. The DiY ethic is equally attractive to anti-capitalists, such as the UK counter culture group, Permanaculture Now, which stresses sharing and community. From these examples we see that cynicism does not necessarily lead to learned helpless: it can lead to the discovery of new and different ways of helping ourselves.

It’s time, Americans, to roll up our sleeves and fix this mess. Forget Washington. We are the people.

The first article in this series, “Plant oil: a DiY solution to fossil fuel pollution,” will appear Thursday, March 5th. Here is a sample of coming articles:

Home-schooling: DiY alternatives to public education
Food Security: DiY solutions from rainy day preppers
Alternative Currency: DiY ways to help end the Fed
Poo Power: DiY waste-to-energy solution
DiY solutions for high unemployment
Thrift Chic: Home style for millennials
Buy Local: The DiY antidote to Federal “free” trade
Co-operatives: DiY solution to the labor–capital problem
Green Fashionista: Discriminating taste is back in style

Follow Victoria N. Alexander so you don’t miss an article on DiY political change.

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