Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Bumper Crop

It used to be you could gauge the political mood of the country through the highly unscientific but remarkably accurate art of bumper sticker observation.

There were some rules you had to follow, of course.You had to drive through a cross section of Southern California to assure a accurate sample. Observing only in Newport Beach, for example, was a no-no. Ditto Hollywood with all those liberal actors. (Wait a minute, weren't Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenneger Republican actors? But I digress).

You also had to factor in that drivers of pickup trucks and SUVs tend to be more conservative, hybrid drivers more liberal. Did you ever see an peace symbol on a Chevy Silverado or a gun rack in a Prius?

These days, however, there seems to be a dearth of political bumper stickers. Mostly you see something like, "My Child Was Citizen of the Month at the Juvenile Detention Facility" or a war slogan such as "My God Can Beat Up Your God."

That's odd. It may be early but we're already beginning to separate the thoroughbreds from the Clydesdales in the presidential sweepstakes. I doubt if I'll ever see a Joe Biden bumper sticker or one supporting the candidacy of Tom Tancredo.

But we could reasonably expect to see a few Hillary Clinton examples, pro and con. Last year, a sticker that said "Run Hillary Run" was a hot seller in New York. Democrats put it on the rear bumper. Republicans put it on the front bumper.

I haven't seen a Hillary sticker locally so far.They're out there for sale, of course. Don't like her? Than stick a "No Way in Hellary" message on your bumper. Love her? Try "It Always Takes a Clinton to Clean Up After a Bush" on your car.

And Barrack Obama? I've actually seen a couple. That's doesn't represent a mandate but in my survey, he's the front runner among Democrats at this point.

As for the Republicans, I haven't seen so much as a lapel pin. Certainly there must be some people out there who revere Rudy, march for Mitt or are ravenous for Ron (Paul, that is).

But Republicans seem to be keeping to themselves a bit. The Bush administration hasn't quite worked out like they hoped and if you believe some media outlets, the Democratic siege of Washington is a mere formality.

On the other hand, Mrs. Dewey had picked out her White House china pattern before the final returns were in. Stay tuned.

While bumper politicking may seem silly, some slogans have been very effective in boosting a candidate's visibility."Nixon's the One" was a winner. As was John F. Kennedy's "the New Frontier," Franklin Roosevelt’s "A New Deal," Dwight Eisehnower's "I Like Ike" and Ronald Reagan's "Morning Again in America."

Then there was Barry Goldwater's 1964 slogan, "In Your Heart, You Know He's Right" which was twisted by his opponents into "In Your Guts, You Know He's Nuts."

The current crop of candidates haven't embraced a slogan yet. One wag suggested "Barrack to the Future" for Obama, "Hey, you'd run, too, if you were Bill Clinton's wife" for Hillary and "The Stormin' Mormon" for Mitt Romney.

I have a feeling none of them will make the cut.

In the meantime, keep your eyes open. The future of America may be appearing on the back of someone's car soon.