Two weeks ago I collected the mail and found that I had finally received my Bernie Sanders bumper sticker. I was ready to run out and slap it on the back of my car until I received loads of advice as to why I shouldn’t.
My mother warned that someone might vandalize my car if they disagree with my candidate of choice. I too began to worry. What if someone would attempt to have a heated, high-speed political debate with me on the highway? What if I made a rolling stop or didn’t use my blinker and I angered the person behind me so much that they started an organization entitled Safe Drivers Against Bernie Sanders, SDABS for short. What if people thought my ‘96 Geo Prizm with a smashed front light wasn’t worthy? I know, I know I worry to much (and I really need to get that light fixed), but are these and other, maybe more rational reasons, why we have seen a drastic decline in bumper stickers?
Though I could not for the life of me find a statistic supporting the decline in political bumper stickers, I have witnessed the decline first hand. When walking around our college campus there are very few political bumper stickers to be found. I sent myself on a political bumper sticker hunt. I found more on a trip to the city, but a lot of them were for previous campaigns. Stickers supporting Obama were spotted on several vehicles, but stickers for the current candidates: Trump, Cruz, Kasich, Sanders, and Clinton were not easily found. I of course witnessed a few, but the numbers were miniscule.
Why is this the case? The main reason, and reason that I can strongly relate to, is fear. We don’t want our tires slashed because we support someone in particular. We don’t want to have a screaming match with someone in a parking lot as we walk to our car.
Fortunately, I have yet to have a negative experience because of my bumper sticker, but instead only positive has come out of having it. Friendly waves are seen from my rearview mirror and exclamations of “Feel the Bern!” are shouted through my window, but not everyone has the same positive experiences. Stories of violent notes left on cars from supporters of candidates different from our own are popularly shared over Facebook. Mad honks and road rage often fill the streets based upon a simple view or stance placed upon an individual’s bumper.
Fear isn’t the only reason for the decline. I feel as if many people have expressed the “I hate them all” stance. There are many people who believe there is not one single candidate who is able to carry on the presidency. Many people are only voting to keep a particular person out of office, not to put a particular person in. With these kinds of thoughts toward the 2016 election it is no surprise individuals don’t have their candidate of choosing proudly displayed on their bumper.
The last reason I believe we have seen a huge decline in bumper stickers is because Facebook has literally become the bumper of the Internet world. We can slap just about any view we have on our Facebook wall for thousands to see. I can’t scroll through Facebook without seeing something that pertains to the candidates running for President. Often the things we post though our negative things about the candidates we despise. Whether it’s a video entitled “Mean Girls Read Donald Trump Tweets” or a photo ridiculing the socialist views of Senator Sanders, it’s mostly all negative. I’ve also realized that we see more bumper stickers saying things like “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Trump” opposed to stickers saying “Trump: Make America Great Again”. We have found it’s easier to bash the candidates we dislike over social media or through bumper stickers, than proudly showing an affiliation for the candidate we agree with. It still shows that as a whole we are scared of pairing ourselves with a certain political affiliation.
Whether it’s fear, voter apathy or additional outlets for our political views, we can rest assured that though bumper stickers have diminished, they will probably never completely disappear. Mediums will change and bumper stickers may be displayed on our MacBook’s instead of our bumpers. Unfortunately, despite changes we will still continue to witness backlash from supporting one particular candidate over another. Regardless though of how sticky of a situation political bumper stickers might be, I can proudly say that both my car and myself are sticking with Sanders.