TO PUT TO REST the endless speculation and rumors and clear the air once and for all, I submit the following pre-announcement about my immediate political future:
My platform for the presidency as the candidate of the Artist Party comprises just two planks: the siesta, and walking. Combined, these simple yet radical changes to our daily routine can do much to cure the nation’s ills.
The workings of the federal government are vast and complex, and I do not pretend to know how to manage them. I will leave that to others more sophisticated than I.
Money and power corrupt, and our body politic is badly broken; as your president I will refuse to engage with that greedy brawl called Congress, and rise above their endless provocations.
I will put all of my energy instead into establishing a substantial midday break from the workplace and instituting a daily walk, and making them accessible to all Americans.
Taken together, these two steps will drastically cut healthcare costs and boost the economy. A happier, healthier nation is a more productive one, and a thoughtful and informed citizenry makes better decisions about the complex issues we face, from hunger and disease to climate change.
INSTITUTING a national siesta will be my first presidential act. Never mind the metric system, it is high time America caught up to the rest of the civilized world in honoring the time-honored practice of taking a lengthy break from work in the middle of every day. I propose a recess of two-and-one-half hours, from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., say, returning to work until 6 p.m.
People can use their siesta any way they wish. They can take a nap, read, do a crossword, walk in the woods, or do nothing at all. They can shop for, prepare, and eat a meal, or dine with family or a friend. They can run errands, make love, or work out at the gym.
However they choose to spend their time, people will return to the workplace refreshed and energized. A siesta will create a healthier balance in people’s lives than the conventional 30-minute or one-hour lunch break, making employees happier and more productive, simultaneously raising the nation’s collective mood and lifting its economy.
BUT THE CENTERPIECE of my campaign is to make a daily walk a part of universal healthcare for all able-bodied Americans. I am calling for an hour of walking every day for everyone capable, in all weather and seasons.
Walking regularly is excellent physical exercise, so this will have an immediate and lasting impact on such critical public health issues as heart disease and our obesity crisis, dramatically lowering our healthcare costs. But the benefits of daily walking only begin there.
Walking is a known antidepressant, and it reduces stress. A daily walk will lessen our national angst, improving Americans’ mental as well as physical well-being, with an equally significant impact on the bottom line.
Walking will also put Americans back in touch with nature. As powerful and seductive as our continually evolving communication technologies are, they can disempower us by keeping us indoors and desensitizing us to the real world.
This is especially important since climate change is one of the defining issues of our lifetime, and everyone contributes to it. When it comes to energy use, too many of us have been willing to leave the job to others, though, turning a blind eye to waste when a new product makes our lives even nominally easier. The leaf blower and single-serving coffeemaker come immediately to mind.
We can ill afford to hide behind creature comforts that protect us from weather extremes and changes to our landscapes through the seasons. To fully appreciate our climate, we must experience the rain stinging our face, feel our toes go numb in the cold, sweat out humid heat waves.
Walking reveals the vast, complex, and interdependent natural world and the energy of all life forms within it, heightening awareness of our influence and frailty. Walking reminds us of the true cost of things, materially, in labor, spiritually, and psychically. Walking broadens and deepens our experience, makes us more alert, enlivens our senses.
If too much of what we know comes secondhand, derived from digital rather than direct experience, we surrender not just personal authority, but responsibility, too.
Walking cultivates connection and empathy. Ignorance of the intricate and subtle workings of the planet makes people vulnerable to the unproven claims of anonymous sources whose motives we may not know or suspect, and that might not be in our best interests.
Walking inspires our best thinking. Too often we make hasty or uninformed decisions or embrace styles, products, and trends without fully considering their costs or consequences. The daily one-hour walk will produce more and better thinking for America, helping people make informed choices on issues that affect their own lives and the lives of their children and grandchildren, from how we grow our food to our sources of fuel.
It’s hard to be good stewards of the planet if we lose touch with it. It’s hard to feel empowered and motivated if we lose touch with ourselves.
The siesta will put us in a proper mood and perspective by restoring balance to our lives. The daily walk will improve our physical and mental health, deepen our aesthetic appreciation, and engage us directly with the real world on which the quality of life on earth depends.
My critics will point out that my simple but elegant plan is woefully naive, and shows a dreadful lack of detail. True enough. Nevertheless, I want to make clear in advance my terms for considering the job if elected.