Yesterday at a political gathering I picked up my first Romney campaign bumper sticker. It actually says Romney Believe in America, and even though I support Governor Romney, I am afraid to place it on my car.
Thinking that I was being a bit too paranoid, I asked some other Romney supporters and they agreed with me that displaying a Romney bumper sticker is just too dangerous.
Maybe this is the reason why I have seen so few Romney bumper stickers displayed, not only in the hotly contested swing state where I live, but also in other swing states where I have recently traveled.
Which leads me to the question: What has happened to our nation when voters are afraid to display their political preferences with something as traditional as a bumper sticker?
Personally, I am concerned that my car will be “keyed” along the sides or that some other damage will be inflicted on the vehicle.
What a sad commentary this is about political discourse in 2012.
Now back in 2008 I had a McCain bumper sticker on my car and I was not worried in the least. So what happened between 2008 and 2012?
The answer, I believe, can be summed up in three words: polarization, anger, and racism.
Our nation is polarized, but this is nothing new. We have been extremely polarized since the Clinton era. However, we are now experiencing what I will call “polarization 2.0.” This is a more emotional, angry type of polarization with racism lurking in the background. Let me explain.
If I choose to display a Romney Believe in America bumper sticker, that shows the world I am more likely an older, well-to-do white person. Now, according to our president, this means I probably do not pay my “fair share” of taxes and favor cutting or eliminating most entitlement programs for those less fortunate. My car is a trendy SU, so therefore I support all those rich oil companies; and I am probably a racist because the mainstream media has said, in so many words, that most people not voting for Obama must have at least some racist tendencies.
Am I exaggerating here?
So being a somewhat rebellious person, there is a part of me that says, “Go for it. Stand up for Romney and put that bumper sticker on your car. This is America and you are free to display your political choices out in the open.”
Then the other more cautious part of me says, “This is a leased car that you are turning back to the dealer in December and you do not want to run the risk of any vandalism that would cost you extra money.”
Honestly, I am torn about this bumper sticker decision, but even more concerned that it has to be a decision I am forced to think about.
No matter who wins the election in 2012, the fact that I fear placing a presidential campaign bumper sticker on my car makes me even more anxious about the current (and future) state of our nation than for my car’s safety.
Dr. Helen responds: