There’s no better place to say it than on the back of your car.

The rhetorical activity at the end of Chapter 4 asked us to
analyze vanity license plates or bumper stickers and determine what they might
suggest about the car owner’s ideologies. Below is a list of the most notable
bumper stickers I’ve found in the past two days and what I believe they say
about the person who owns them.

  1. Is it 2012 yet? – This is a sarcastic reference to the end of the world prediction coming in the year
    2012. While it does not give me much insight into the person’s ideologies, I
    can assume they take the prediction lightly and do not feel overly threatened
    by any impending doom. Perhaps the sarcastic tone is meant to undermine the
    arguments advanced by those who do believe in the upcoming end of days, or
    maybe the car’s owner finds humor in any hysteria over something that nobody is
    sure of and nobody can control.
  2. Everyone remember we’re only visitors here- I found
    this bumper sticker to be concerning the environment, and as a plea for
    everyone to treat the Earth as if we don’t “own” it ourselves
    (because frankly, we don’t) but are just visiting during our lifetime. The
    car’s owner clearly thinks it is imperative that we respect the Earth and its
    resources in order for future generations to live. One of the commonplaces
    here, although not held by everyone, is that humans and human activity does
    have a substantial environmental impact. If the car’s owner did not follow this
    commonplace then they wouldn’t feel the need to advise everyone to act in a
    considerate way.
  3. Take it easy, life is short- This car
    owner clearly as a laid back attitude which is most likely represented in many
    of their personal ideologies. They try to value the time they have in life and
    try to make the best of it. If you “sweat the small stuff,” you might
    not be getting the most out of life which is already short enough. One of the
    commonplaces here is that in order to lead a happy and valued life, you should
    learn to relax and take it easy when necessary; worrying about everything and
    being overly stressed frequently is not a good way to make the best of a short
    life.
  4. Republican Health Plan: Don’t get sick- There
    are several assumptions that could be made following a chain of logic from this
    bumper sticker. First, you could assume that the political ideologies of the
    owner closely aligns with a liberal Democrats, particularly one who favor’s
    Obama’s universal health care plan. The assumed commonplaces behind this
    sticker include: universal health care provides more/better/cheaper
    opportunities for Americans in need, Republicans favor a privatized health care
    system, and a privatized health care system does not help as many people so you
    would be wise to not get sick or need a doctor. Although it is certain that the
    opposing political party, Republicans, would not stand behind these ideologies
    as commonplaces.
  5. Hang up and drive- The person sporting this bumper sticker is
    obviously concerned about safety, and they follow the commonplace that a cell
    phone leads to a distracted driver which leads to a dangerous driver. Most all
    in society, even if they’re guilty of it themselves, would agree with this
    commonplace.
  6. I’d rather be fishing- This is another example of a person with a laid back attitude that
    is also probably reflective in their personal ideologies. I could assume that the
    daily errands this person makes is a necessity and probably not enjoyable
    leisure time. Fishing is often regarded as a calming, mostly solo activity and
    a commonplace that can be taken from this sticker is that sometimes people need
    to just get away and take a mental/physical break from the stresses of life.
  7. Be nice to America or we’ll bring democracy to your door- I can
    assume that the political ideology of the car owner aligns with the Democrats,
    and they are particularly unfond of America’s recent, aggressive foreign
    policy. It can also be assumed that they did not agree with the Iraq War and
    also several aspects of President Bush’s Middle Eastern policy. A few
    commonplaces that follow a chain of reasoning from this bumper sticker include:
    Democracy is the best and most preferred type of government, Americans  value their country as a democracy, much of
    the US’ foreign policy is aggressive and with the self-impressions as the “world-police,”
    and lastly, that America has the ability to spread democracy to nation’s even
    if it is against their will.
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3 responses to this post.

  1. I interpreted the sticker, “Everyone remember, we’re only visitors here” to have a deeper, religious meaning. So it was nice to read something different. It makes me realize that not all bumper stickers are as serious as they seem.

    The Republican health plan one makes me chuckle…I’m a democrat.

    It’s a lot more interesting now to read bumper stickers and really think about their meanings. Or not. Who can resist a good chuckle from, “My other car is a Mercedes” on a rusted junker?

    Reply

    • Haha agreed! Bumper stickers always crack me up. And that’s a great point about the “Everyone remember, we’re only visitors here” sticker… Every bumper sticker can be interpreted differently. I didn’t even think to look at it in a religious context, and I wonder how many others are meant to make a point or teach a “lesson” but have been misunderstood… context is everything!

      Reply

  2. Like you pointed out, bumper stickers can reveal a lot about a person. Like Natosha said, seeing the Health Care sticker would probably indicate that the driver is a Democrat. Conversely, stickers that offer pro-life messages probably belong to a conservative driver. When I was younger, I remember a comment made by my younger brother who was probably in second or third grade at the time. It was around the time of the 2000 election, and my dad had gotten a bumper sticker at work that supported a candidate. My brother told him not to put it on our car though, because someone who supported the other candidate might try to run into a car in a parking lot with a shopping cart! I just remember how funny it was at the time, and fortunately, I don’t think people take bumper stickers seriously enough to do damage to another person’s property.

    Reply

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