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Sticker Shock: The Hazards of Political Bumper Stickers

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We aspire to be mild, polite drivers. We graciously wave last-minute mergers into our lane; we patiently wait behind the driver still idling after the light has turned green; we serenely shift lanes from the motorist who rides our bumper with the high beams flashing. But now that the 2012 elections are warming up, that's all about to change. Nothing can incite road rage, instantly metamorphosizing us into sadistic, vengeful drivers than political bumper stickers.

It's a potentially lethal combination: a two-ton machine fueled by highly-combustible gasoline and political ideology. The bumper sticker is tauntingly positioned on the car's ass -- in-your-face-and-up-yours! Stuck in traffic, there's no escape. It stares us down, challenging us -- go ahead, just try not to read it. It is perfectly designed as a forum to yell and be heard loud and clear minus the inconvenience of debate. It affords us, in our private bubble, to be right all the time. How sweet is that? If others don't like it tough. Eat my dust!

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The political bumper sticker has the ability to create an instant enemy. We've never met, heard, or even seen the person, but if the bumper sticker goes against our team, instantly, we hate that #%@*! Not only do we loathe the person, but now, only inches away, we are revving our engine, plotting our fantasy revenge. Do we run the idiot off the road? Or merely smash into her? We grit our teeth, pound the dashboard, and long for a glimpse of the driver inside. We expect horns, perhaps fangs. But when we do pass, slow and glaring, the person seems disappointingly normal, tightly focused on the road, the sun visor down to deflect the glare, a baseball cap, glasses. Yet we still want to raise our fist and beep the horn to signal our contempt and their idiocy.

Of course, at times, the opposite experience also happens. Stuck in traffic on I-95, if the bumper sticker ahead of us supports our ideology, even the miles of snarled traffic doesn't seem quite that bad. We've attained an instant ally, a compatriot. Should that vehicle need to change lanes or change tires, we are loyally committed. Praising the driver's intelligence and impeccable taste, we look forward to the moment of the reveal, when we can finally see the winner behind the wheel. We expect recognition, perhaps attraction. We slowly pass, and notice nothing extraordinary, yet we persist in believing in our deep connection, and so we smile and flash a thumbs up.

The closer the 2012 elections get, the more bumpers will be plastered with stickers inciting road rage with each trip to the grocery store. And, it won't cease on November 6th. Long after the losers have conceded and banners and billboards have been taken down, there remains the legion of drivers either too loyal or too lazy to remove their bumper stickers. Thus, providing sure-fire targets of road rage for months and sometimes years to come. So, this election, before peeling the backing off that rectangular bulls eye, stop and think about the intended or unintended consequences of making ourselves a moving target.


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332 206
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Popular Vote
33 out of 100 seats are up for election. 51 are needed for a majority.
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Current Senate 53 47
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All 435 seats are up for election. 218 are needed for a majority.
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