Matt Niswonger

Our response to The Donald

By Matt Niswonger

Happiness is only found in the present moment. Good times mountain biking with the family in the Lost Sierra.

Happiness is only found in the present moment. Good times mountain biking with the family in the Lost Sierra.

In the wake of the 2016 presidential election it’s clear that California sees the world through a completely different lens than the rest of America. By a huge margin, we rejected Donald Trump and his pessimistic worldview. No hard feelings America, but we are headed in a completely different direction.

Most Californians passionately rejected Trump’s divisive vision for our country. Now as he prepares to be sworn in as our 45th president he seems to be shifting his view and softening his rhetoric on certain campaign promises like putting Hillary in jail and building a wall along our border. Whatever. Changing your tone after the election only undermines the power of everything you say moving forward. California voters have made it abundantly clear that we don’t buy what you are selling.

For the most part we see diversity as a strength, we care about the environment, and we are just not that worried about the rest of the world taking advantage of us. During the campaign Trump kept saying, “the rest of the world is laughing at us because of the deals we make.” California’s response? “Bro, you need to relax. You sound really insecure when you say that.”

Another way to understand how California is completely immune to the Trump phenomenon is how we react to his trademarked catchphrase “make America great again.” That phrase doesn’t even make sense for someone from California. Everyone knows that too much time spent thinking about the past causes regret. Inversely, too much time spent thinking about the future causes anxiety. Happiness is found right in the middle, as a “right now” experience and people in California get that.

Happiness is experienced in the present moment while waxing your surfboard on the beach, or while clipping the anchors after a successful redpoint of your favorite sport climb. For some people happiness is drinking a well-earned beer after an epic hike in the forest or laughing with friends after watching a sunset or a cup of tea after yoga.

The point is, regardless of how much money you make, or how you feel about immigration, or terrorism, or climate change, we feel it necessary to remind ASJ readers that nature is always right there in the present moment offering us a chance to get out of our head and into the adventurous moment.

Here at Adventure Sports Journal we have been discussing what the appropriate level of political involvement looks like for a California outdoor publication. Should we be political? What do ASJ readers think?

On the one hand it seems almost impossible to stay out of politics. With a climate change denier (or at least a climate change flip-flopper) running the country, how do we stand by while the future is being robbed from our grandchildren? I’ve written about climate change quite a bit in previous issues, and long-time ASJ readers know my strong feelings on the matter. How selfish to ignore the temperature and CO2 data and the strong warnings from the scientific community for the sake of convenience and the continued profits of the petroleum industry. It’s maddening and insane given the very real economic and environmental benefits of clean energy policies as demonstrated right here in the Golden State.

On the other hand, some ASJ readers have sent emails telling me to tone down the politics in my editor’s note and let ASJ remain a pleasant escape from the realities of the world. I find this challenging.

Personally I don’t see a way to separate the two. If you climb, ski, hike, surf, bike or enjoy any form of outdoor adventure how can you avoid taking sides when one presidential candidate is completely wrong on climate change and the other candidate is completely right?

In addition, I don’t see a separation between environmental issues like climate change and social issues like the disgusting misogyny, racism, and xenophobia that reared its ugly head during the campaign. Our addiction to fossil fuels and our addiction to hate and fear are two linked issues that humans must address. The future of our planet and our species is at stake.

With this in mind, for the first time ever we sent a journalist to another state to cover an important story that is both social and environmental at its core. Longtime ASJ editor Leonie Sherman traveled to North Dakota to witness the conflict at Standing Rock first-hand and write about the ongoing protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline. We are excited to expand our coverage to include an issue outside of California that is important to our readers. Her excellent story The Freedom Runners of Standing Rock bears witness to the importance of nonviolent resistance in the face of corporate and political greed.

What are your thoughts? Should ASJ continue down the path of expanded coverage for environmental and social causes? Or is it better to keep outdoor adventure separate from politics? You know my thoughts, what about yours? Send me an email or comment directly at the end of this article. Also, you can chime in to our current Switchback poll “Do you feel the election is going to affect the adventure sports community?” here.

Welcome to issue #94. We are seeing the snowflakes fall and looking forward to a snowy winter (I hope).

Thanks for reading.

Matt Niswonger

PS: My original editor’s note was voted down and rejected by the editorial staff as too polarizing and weird. In case you find it interesting you can read it online here.

ISSUE #94 SWITCHBACK POLL: Do you feel the election is going to affect the adventure sports community? Tell us how. Chime in at