why we camp #17 — politics

I am not really going to write about politics. The theater of politics, the posturing, the mis-direction makes me heartsick. It is shocking and it is all shockingly normal. It would seem to me that there ought to be a good number of things we can all agree on so that we can strive together to make a better future and a better now. Instead, politics has become about winning, as if society were a game.

I will write about people.

In the back of your minds you should know that I believe, at least a little bit, that if the Congress and the Senate all had to go camping together that government would work better. It has worked every time on our Kindergarten camping trips at Travis Elementary.

Doug Michels was a friend. Maybe you have heard his name through the art collective known as Ant Farm, one of the inventors of Cadillac Ranch, or maybe you have seen the video Media Burn.

cadillac ranch — amarillo texas

He was a designer, an artist, a crazy dreamer, a fan of dolphins and outer space and art and saw a bright future. One of my favorite projects of his was called the NATIONAL SOFA. The basic idea was to erect a couch outside the White House on the street with a video link to the inside of the house and vice versa. I cannot remember the details of where exactly the reciprocal couch on the inside was supposed to be. It was not the Oval Office but rather a corridor somewhere, an interstitial place. The idea was that, between moments of national importance, the president and their advisors would take a break, have a seat and chat with the folks outside, get to know each other. As I remember it was supposed to be the opposite of staged — relaxed, agenda free, just talking about the weather, sports, war.

It wouldn’t work of course.

There would be a line outside of the dreaded special interest folks. There would be gotcha actors. There would be liars and fakes and cheats mixed in with the folks who just wanted to say hi and learn about the people who were trying to run things. There would be late night TV hosts. There would be politicians. The couch would get grotty. Someone would try to sleep on it. Same would be true on the inside couch, makeup, lighting, talking points, hidden teleprompters, messaging instead of talking. Probably not so grotty. The White House probably has an excellent cleaning staff.

I cannot particularly remember talking politics with Doug. He made this chart and 25ish years ago I published it in Perspecta 29. It is a bit dated maybe but I love its optimism.

And no camping cannot solve everything. I know that too. However, it does help re-focus and re-concentrate the mind on important things.

I am looking forwards to driving across the country with my son Sam. We have to sprint across but will make time to stop a few beautiful and wild places on the way.

We may discuss politics.

We will definitely laugh.

We will listen to loud music.

We will see the stars.