Leibo At Large: Bumper stickers say too much about drivers

By David Leibowitz

After a few thousand miles this year spent driving Arizona’s interstates, I’ve come to a conclusion: There are two kinds of people left in this fine nation of ours.

People who slap bumper stickers on their car. And normal people.

As someone who belongs to the latter group, I’ve spent many a mile wondering (a) why anyone feels compelled to tell the driving public how strongly they feel about this or that politician, religious figure or college sports team and (b) why it seems that certain vehicles inevitably sport certain opinions.

I mean, does Subaru apply the “Coexist” bumper sticker standard at the factory or is it an after-market option? Then there’s Leibowitz’s First Law of Vehicular Dynamics: the higher the lifted pickup truck, the greater the likelihood of you coming eye level with an anti-Biden sticker or that old standby, “Don’t Blame Me. I Voted For Trump.”

In 2017, a seller of cheap auto insurance commissioned a survey of more than 2,000 U.S. drivers and arrived at a total I don’t believe in the slightest: that 50% of men have bumper stickers on their vehicles versus 63% of women. The same survey put Arizona toward the lower end of likelihood to sport a bumper sticker by state, i.e, somewhere between 55% and 60% of drivers.

Personally, my gut says the bumper sticker brigade is less than 20% of the population, with maybe half of those making some overt political statement. Of course, the survey above was completed in 2017. Ever since, America has been hurtling at an exponential clip toward blatant insanity.

In my house, my parents raised us with a simple mantra I’ve mentioned before: “It’s one thing to be an idiot, but it’s another to open your mouth and prove it to everyone.” Bumper stickers fly in the face of that edict, which is surely the point.

Once upon a time, we kept potentially controversial opinions to ourselves, because we didn’t know whom we might offend.

Now? We adorn our bumpers precisely in the hopes of “owning the libs” or sparking a case of “MAGA Madness.” The nastier the saying, the prouder the driver. I’ve started keeping a list:

“I Support Global Warming,” with an arrow directed toward the exhaust pipe of a massive Silverado.

“My Other Ride Is Your Mom.”

“I’m Anti-Trump Because I’m Anti-Stupid.” Then, not even a half hour later on a Range Rover speeding up the 17: “Does The Ass Make My SUV Look Big,” with a goofy mugshot of old Joe Biden.

I’ve tried to imagine which cause circa 2022 would so motivate me that I’d feel compelled to advertise it to the world at 75 miles per hour. It wouldn’t be political; there’s not a politician or political party in existence for which I’d risk my Kelley Blue Book resale value.

The same goes for allegiance to sports franchises and dog breeds, and my stances on social issues like guns, abortion, gay rights and tolerance. It’s not that I don’t feel strongly about such things, because I do. But I feel with equal passion that I don’t want to be defined by five or six words on the back of my car, a pithy blasphemy that virtually every other occupant of the freeway will either hate or ignore completely.

Bumper stickers today advertise our belonging to certain clubs, and I’ve never been much of a joiner. Though there is one bumper sticker I saw and thought about buying, because I agree with it wholeheartedly.

“I Was Convinced By A Bumper Sticker,” goes the saying, “Said No One Ever.”

Probably written by some driver’s really smart honor student.