Thursday, November 6, 2008

Calling a truce to the bumper sticker war

I am very glad that the election cycle is over. Of course I could hardly have been happier with the outcome, but even if there were more disappointments than just California's bull-headed amendment, I would still be happy to see the curtain come down. I was tired of the ads, tired of the signs, tired even of the bumper stickers. Mostly though, I was just tired of the hate. Maybe hate is too strong of a word for what I felt when I encountered a McCain supporter. Mistrust, contempt or incredulity would be more accurate words, I suppose. And it happened unconsciously. Without noticing, I would feel a resentment toward drivers with McCain/Palin stickers and residents who had McCain/Palin signs in their front yard. When I thought about the possibility of a Republican win, I felt a flush of anger toward the millions of Americans who were steering the country into the ground. Even now, I feel anger toward those who voted Republican. That isn't fair and I am really tired of feeling like I should hate half of America.

But the thing is, although there may be many reasons for identifying yourself with one political party or another, the choice you make really says volumes about yourself, especially if you go so far as to post your allegiance on your car or lawn (as I did). Bumper stickers become a kind of shorthand, identifying the wearer to the world. When I see a Bush or McCain sticker on a car, I immediately think that this person is religious, pro-life, anti-gay and says "Ay-rab." What does my Obama/Biden sticker say about me? Atheist? Vegetarian, pro-gay and pro-choice? Buys coffee at Starbucks? Listens to NPR and watches the Daily Show? All true - see, I'm a walking cliche, but there's no reason to assume that everyone else is too.

I'm going to make an effort - and believe me, it will be an effort - to assume as little as possible about someone, especially if a negative opinion will follow said assumptions. I'll assume that an SUV sporting a McCain/Palin sticker and a family of Jesus Fish has perfectly good reasons for their opinions. The world is so full of hate and resentment already. The least I can do is not add to it.

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