As an example of why ideas matter to a nation and its culture, a quick look at elections.
Contrary to popular belief, the ballot box does not make a free country, or keep a country free. The ballot box, voting, having politicians represent us in the electoral process, does not ensure peace and tranquility.
All voting means in a nation is that the nation “has elections” and that the character of those elected reflects the character of those voting. As well, the condition of said nation is somewhere in the “still has a pulse” band of freedom. One big problem in America is that some perceive elections as a tool to save the nation. True enough if you liken that tool to a shovel, a shovel that, yes, can be used by you to dig your way to freedom, or, by the guy next to you, who can use that shovel to bonk you over the head, and dig your grave if he’s polite enough.
Freedom is not voted in. Elections are a result of freedom, but can be used either way. Used against you if you are not paying enough attention to the candidates and the issues, used by you in a positive way if you are not too disinterested or driven into apathy by the other sides facade of so-called inevitable victory.
Voting always matters, even if ideas are dying or dead, and being jerked around inside the shark’s mouth. Unless your sure you will be hung on your way to the ballot box (in which case it’s too late), you should vote every election, even if you need a clothes pin for your nose, and it looks silly at the polling station. But take care to study the issues well, weight those issues against the candidates, write those candidates hand written letters, short, stout, polite, letters. Read and observe society. What ideas are better for your survival, and the survival of your values long-term? Which candidate carries those ideas at least partially in that direction? Take your thoughts, and follow through with actions. Don’t allow others to use their strategy of apathy against you.