Bumper Stickers

I have always been fascinated by bumper stickers. They are sort of a pre-electronic Twitter – which I also find fascinating. Bumper stickers are more provocative because you don’t choose to “follow” them. They are in your face.

My wife often chides me when I squint through the windshield to read a sticker, or pause i the parking lot of a restaurant to study one of those cars with stickers plastered all over the back of it – a sort of self-inflicted graffiti.

While I am fascinated by them, bumper stickers offend my sense of propriety. My parents believed it undignified to “advertise” stuff with your car or clothing. My grandfather on my mother’s side would chisel-off the name plates of appliances he bought. “It’s not Frigidaire’s refrigerator, I paid for it, and I’m not going to advertise for them!”, he would say. My parents never had a bumper sticker on a car, nor did they have own any garments with more than a discreet logo. This aversion was passed on to me.

It was in the 1990’s when I put a bumper sticker on my old Honda sedan. I forget what the sticker said, but the capital “C” in “Clinton” was a hammer and sickle. I continue to go back and forth, putting them on, then taking them off. Right now I am sticker free – mostly because I don’t want my late-model vehicle to get key striped.

In the early days, bumper stickers were used to advertised some sort business from the low end of the tourism industry. Older residents will recall the green on yellow, “The THING? Mystery of the desert” sticker that seemed to be everywhere in southern Arizona. Decades ago, when the City of Tucson wanted to straighten River Road and make it an east-west highway, the residents along River Road campaigned strongly against the plan and sported bumper stickers that said, “Keep it Kinky.” This was the local bellwether to the shift from business to politics.

Politics now seem to dominate bumper sticker messages. Stands on every imaginable issue, from abortion to medicine to taxes, are thrust upon the unsuspecting driver. There is always an uptick in an election year, but the last cycle blossomed with a plethora of Obama promotional images and slogans – including the “O” logo which was the best, most adaptable logo since the Sumerians started poking clay with sticks.


There are far more Democrats than Republicans in Pima County, so Obama stickers were everywhere. After the election, the stickers remained, even seemed to grow in number, or maybe I just find them more irritating. I have a friend who came to town for the Gem and Mineral Show last February, and was shocked to see Obama bumper stickers on Arizona cars. He, being from New Jersey, assumed all of Arizona was McCain country. I explained that Pima County was “Commie Central” in Arizona, and was actually carried by Obama.

Here it is, the dead of summer, and the virulent plague of “O” stickers still persist. I even saw a new mutation, “Yes We Did!”

Speaking of McCain, people on Obama’s presidential campaign admitted that McCain was their candidate of choice for the Republican nomination. They also admitted that they were scared witless by Romney. They were afraid that Romney would make Obama look clueless in the area of business and economics. Actually, you do not need a Mitt Romney to make president Obama look clueless regarding economics, but that is for another time. This insight does explain why McCain, held in generally low esteem by the Republican base, won the nomination. He was selected by Democrats and “Independents”. That’s why states have “open primaries”. Open primaries allow, in this case, Democrats to affect the outcome of Republican primaries.

I should probably save this for the next “Get Out of Town” issue, but I am really tired of Obama bumper stickers being worn like some kind of badge. It has always been considered poor taste for the winner to strut around rubbing everyone’s nose in his victory. Most parents teach their children this at an early age. My parents were no different. Remember, “Pride Goeth Before a Fall.”

On second thought, keep it up. The way things are going, those stickers may become a source of embarrassment. In fact, the Republicans may recycle the theme of an old 70’s Democrat sticker – “Don’t Blame Me, I voted for McCain.”

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