Wait, what? Nothing?
Yes, that is right, do nothing. I do not mean do nothing in a political or activist sense. Good lord no, please make sure that your elected representatives know very clearly what you think of their behavior in office and how that is going to make you vote in 2018. Make their lives unpleasant by actually showing up to their town hall meetings—assuming they actually schedule town halls in their districts unlike Rod Blum—and let them know how displeased you are with their proposed legislation and Donald Trump.
When I say do nothing I mean stop participating in the consumer driven shell game. Our consumption of stuff just feeds the beast. We can rail against the political machine in Washington D.C. as much as we want but as long as we are filling our shopping carts the wheel will keep on spinning.
Do you think Exxon Mobil really cares about protests? Not really. They would care however if a measurable percentage of their customers stopped buying gasoline because they were commuting by bike. How many? Enough to flatten their growth curve and cause investors to panic. Looking at the current state of oil markets a drop in demand of 5-10% is enough to cause major perturbations in price. Could you reduce your personal consumption of gasoline by 5-10%? Heck, all of us could probably do that without thinking. No one is saying that you need to stop driving entirely, just reduce it by 5-10%. The upside is that it costs nothing to do less driving.
Do you think WalMart really cares about anything other than its quarter versus quarter results? Not really. However, given that the counties that supported Hillary Clinton account for ~64% of the nation’s GDP if those voters were to stop patronizing WalMart the results would be staggering. Remember, the game is now about growth and if companies cannot show a path toward growth the market will punish them. Look at coal companies. Once these companies could no longer show a clear path to growth, never mind declines in demand, the market punished the companies by withholding capital and the coal companies began declaring bankruptcy. It costs nothing to not shop at WalMart.
Political activists constantly harp on us to “vote with our wallets,” but it is much more effective to vote by not opening our wallets. Just shifting our spending from one faceless corporation to another is not going to create any kind of meaningful change. If over a short period of time there was a measurable decline in consumer demand for stuff you would see some real change. Granted, Republicans would probably start trying to pass legislation that guaranteed WalMart a certain amount of income because they love welfare when it is for corporations.
Doing nothing when it comes to consumerism is subversive because it goes against the dominant paradigm in modern America. Heck, when we were facing the greatest existential threat to the United States in a generation George W. Bush implored us to go out and shop. A stirring call to action this was not, but it does represent what passes for action in the minds of modern politicians.
Step back from the cash register and do nothing. Put that book down and check out something from your public library. Avoid that trip to the mall and see what unused items lurk in your closet that would be better served as a donation to the Salvation Army. Resist the urge to go out for dinner and be truly revolutionary by cooking dinner for a group of people. Heck, that may be the most revolutionary thing you could do because nothing smacks of “commie socialism” like sharing a meal with a group of people and expecting nothing return save for good conversation. I can read the tweets from Donald Trump already “Sad. Dinner without tableside service so un-American. Mar-a-Lago will always be tremendous.”