Bumper Stickers
February 28, 2005

When I was in Germany and thinking about my return to the US, I wasn’t thinking about bumper stickers. It wasn’t until I was back here and had started to settle back in again, that I did. And I realized that while I had been following world news, politics, and the US election from overseas, what I was missing was the local response: the election signs on the lawns, the earnest discussions in the cafés, and, of course, the bumper stickers.

Now, four months have passed since Bush was re-elected, but many remnants of the election still remain. Signs still sit in windows and on snow-covered lawns. And bumper stickers, especially, are still attached to bumpers. Several times a week I walk the entire length of the YWCA parking lot on my way to working out. And I’ve found myself searching out and laughing at the various stickers. It’s a surprise revelation of reverse culture shock; the bumper sticker is whole-heartedly American. You just don’t see them anywhere else.

The bumper stickers I see are telling; they give insight into the Twin Cities’ denizens’ political affiliations, religious leanings, and general outlooks. There are the clear outright campaign support stickers, almost all of them proclaiming “Kerry/Edwards” in bright red, white, and blue. And then there are the edgier political stickers: “Somewhere in Texas a village is missing its idiot,” “It ain’t over ‘til your brother counts the votes,” and “Practice compassionate impeachment.” There are the religious commentaries: “Born right the first time.” And the combination political-religious: “What would Jesus bomb?” There are the stickers of the independent faction: “Think! It’s patriotic.” And the enigmatic retort: “Don’t believe everything you think.”

And then there are the stickers specific to Minnesota, often centered around the late Paul Wellstone, who died in a plane crash just before the 2002 congressional elections. A popular democratic senator, he had voted against the war in Iraq and was seen as increasingly likely to win the election. His death has iconified him to many liberal Minnesotans and green-and-white Wellstone signs can be seen gracing lawns and windows throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul. Of course, he is also a popular item for bumper stickers: “What would Wellstone do?” and even “Wellstone lives!”

So despite the things I miss about Bavaria, I am happy to discover that here in the U.S., at least, I have the enjoyment of reading bumper stickers. It’s little thing, and unexpected, but something I now appreciate in a new way.


Also | teamguava.net | Contact
©2005 Margaret Kosmala