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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Five Reasons to Fear Camping and Donald Trump

It was a Thursday evening. We were driving home from eating out, and we couldn’t find a radio station that didn’t have talk about the presidential campaign. In Iowa we are bombarded with it early, and even a political junkie like me can feel overloaded.
Monty switched the radio off. “Hey,” he said casually. “We should take the kids camping.”
I shuddered. “Why?” I demanded, as if he’d just suggested that we sell our kidneys on the black market.
He raised one eyebrow and glanced my way. “Because it would be fun! Because we could get away and have some family time. I thought you loved camping.”
I used to. But middle age has made me cynical. Or maybe it’s the 2016 presidential race that’s done it. Or maybe it’s all Donald Trump’s fault. Because though we did “get away” over a few days at a nearby state park, I couldn’t help but make comparisons between camping and The Donald.

1. No Flush Toilets/ Nothing to Lose
At first it wasn’t so bad. The “waste” had been removed shortly before we got there, and the potties were filled with clean-smelling chemicals. But after days of use by dozens of campers, well… stench happens. You can hold your nose, you can use hand sanitizer, but pit toilets are still kind of scary.
Of course, we use them because we don’t have a choice. Is there anyone out there who wouldn’t rather flush their waste away? Flushing and camping can be mutually exclusive, and meanwhile, we can’t hold it in indefinitely
But in the campground of life, Donald Trump has his own private potty. It no doubt smells wonderful because it’s been flown in and freshly cleaned every hour. Trump has options so he doesn’t need pit toilets just like he doesn’t need the presidency. This means he can poop all over any issue, whether it’s immigration or Megyn Kelly, and he still comes out smelling clean.

2. S’more Expectations
Somehow children always know about s’mores, and if you’re camping, they’re going to expect roasted marshmallows between two graham crackers with a bar of chocolate thrown in.  This happens at night, naturally, when the potential damage from their inevitable sugar rush is at its highest, and when you won’t really notice the dirt-coated marshmallow that is stuck to your child’s face, hands, and clothing, until morning.
But I have to admit, s’mores are yummy. That’s why they’ve endured. The tastiness factor outweighs the sticky mess that they cause. Just like Donald Trump.
Well no, not exactly. All summer, pundits have projected that Trump will burn out, like a marshmallow shoved into the fire too quickly, erupting into flames and falling into the ashes in a goopy, charred glob. That obviously hasn’t happened, but it’s not because Trump stays away from the sticky, messy issues. He’ll say whatever he wants, and that’s too delicious for many voters to ignore.

3. Big Tent Politics
If it’s hot, it’s roasting inside your tent. If it’s cold outside, somehow the air inside your tent is even colder. There’s never enough room for everyone to sleep comfortably, and if it happens to rain, forget about it. I don’t care how waterproof your tent claims to be, you’re going to get wet.
And then there’s the security issue. Tents don’t have locks but they do have zipable doors. You’d better hope that there are no axe-wielding crazies running the campground. Because let’s face it, if you’re sleeping in a tent, you’re a little bit crazy too.
But people love crazy.
And here’s the thing: Republicans have been struggling for years with how to make their party the party of “big tent politics”. In other words, they want everyone to feel welcome even though their stance on the issues only serves rich, white men. Donald Trump has found a way to fix that.  With Trump, issues are irrelevant because his crazy factor is so entertaining, just like the horror movies you know will give you nightmares.
Trump is the equivalent of the axe-wielding maniac you imagine as you’re trying to fall asleep underneath that canvas ceiling, but he’s actually forming the perfect, killer soundbite. He’s an expert at adapting complex issues into five-second slogans that will make sense to the masses, even though, if you really stop to think about it, they sound crazy. Just like, if you really stop to think about it, sleeping in a tent is crazy too.

4. Bugs
Nobody wants a mosquito bite, especially since they carry the threat of Lyme disease. This is why, when you hear a mosquito buzzing around, you swat it away, you spray on more insect repellent, and you definitely pay attention.
Meanwhile, ants and spiders, while annoying and occasionally dangerous, are much less illusive and easier to ignore.
The comparison here is pretty obvious. Donald Trump is the mosquito. We keep thinking he’ll go away, but it’s been a wet summer and he’s still around. Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Rand Paul and all the others are the ants and spiders. Their bites may ultimately carry more venom, but they’re also boring, predictable, and easily forgettable.
That is, until one of them bites you. But that hasn’t happened yet.

5. Just Redeeming Enough
Despite everything, I actually enjoyed our camping trip. We gazed at the stars and told stories instead of watching TV; we swam in a lake and hiked in the woods. Somehow food always tastes better when cooked over a campfire, and most importantly, I could forget about the rest of the world and enjoy quality time with my family.
Would I do it again? Maybe, if no other vacation options are available.
Speaking of options, while there’s an abundance of Republican candidates, none of them are exotic destinations. Would you rather vote for Ted Cruz or Donald Trump? Would you rather visit your in-laws in Cedar Rapids, or go camping?

I have to say that camping sounds like more fun.

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