Bumper Sticker Politics

Normally I shrug off political bumper stickers, as they are reductionist and empty of anything other than a witty turning of a phrase or a bad pun. However, I saw one on Monday that made my stomach turn and I believe it strikes at a broader problem. The sticker reads:

There are Americans… And there are Liberals.

First off, let’s dispense with this phrase’s legitimacy before we examine the broader issues: A) America is built on the idea of a political system that incorporates a broad spectrum of views, B) Have you heard of voting? Do you understand its purpose and how it works? C) This bumper sticker is devoid of logic.

Now that we’ve dispensed with the phrase, let’s examine the bigger problem here.

There’s a basic concept in, what is it…socio-political dynamics (I’m making this term up, but it covers the bases) that boils down to this: as soon as you start defining the ’us’ you start defining the ’them.’ This is a very useful tool for social control and whipping up a quick, simple crowd of political support (usually for the racist, anti-immigrant far right). That is what this sticker does. It perpetuates a convenient fiction based on thinly-cloaked alarmist rhetoric in order to deepen the divide between groups with different views. Put simply, it splits the world into two groups: Pro-Conservative or Pro-Terrorist.

It’s sick. And, ironically enough, it viciously attacks the very values it claims to ’clarify’ by calling a group of American citizens “not American” for sticking to their own values. Those values, by the way, are founded on the idea that government isn’t there to control, but to foster and uplift. Again, the irony here is obvious to those not blinded by nationalistic foaming. But that’s a topic for another post, I suppose.

Just to finish this amusing galavant with bumper sticker pundits, here’s the other bumper sticker on the offending vehicle (and I’m paraphrasing here): “Guns cause crime like flies cause shit.” Well, bravo there, genius. If we can’t stop shit, we may as well have as many flies as we can instead of getting rid of the flies and trying to establish a safe, efficient way to stem the cause of all the shit. See how the far right wing metaphor works so nicely to show how bizarre some of their stances are? By that argument, we should start a plague of flies, so we won’t have as much shit lying around. In theory.

OK. It’s out of my system now.