Bumper stickers occupy the bumpers of cars and bear short, pithy slogans. The worst bumper stickers of all time are those that are the worst at making any sense — if one thinks about it.
Unfortunately, that is a huge "if". Most voters believe that anything that rhymes, alliterates, or uses perky colors must be based in wisdom. These worsts may in fact be bests, as any slogan that lets a politician prevail without making sense is a God-send.
The writers of such bumper stickers can get corner desks in a Congressional office where they can spend decades doing nearly no work, on their way to a pension paid for by chumps who do: a sinecure almost as alluring as that of his boss — and without the pesky business of voting on bills.
- Vote for Me
Most bumper stickers bear only the name of the candidate, and even conceal which political party he is in. Indeed, if sufficiently vague, hundreds of voters will slap them on their cars — at which point the pointless sticker starts to make its point: Everyone else is for me. Which somehow becomes a compelling reason for you to be for me as well. Ideally, so many people buy this that the candidate can waltz to the legislature without ever making a point at all.
- Hope • Change
In a similar way, the obvious question, which no one has ever asked, is: Yes, we can...do what?
- Morning in America
Lest one think those blasts of vagueness are specific to Barack Obama, it is important to remember that, a generation ago (two, in the inner cities), Ronald Reagan was elected without even promising either change or hope, solely on the notion that anyone replacing Jimmy Carter would be a veritable blast of sunshine. Only 49 of 50 states bought it. Reagan went on to prove that it was "morning in America" virtually every morning — and he was right roughly twice each day, like any other stopped clock.
- Proud to Be Nigerian
Driving through Boston with one of these is not electioneering, and other drivers really don't care how this driver feels to be who he is. Except that it translates to, "Proud not to be one of you." Helpfully, it answers the question of whether the driver can be expected to obey traffic law regarding yielding at the next intersection: About as much as he obeyed immigration law, or that he will obey election law next November.
Yellow to make a statement for or against war, red to make a statement for or against AIDS, pink to make a statement for or against breast awareness (and no one is really against that), or ugly to make a statement for or against autism. These are technically bumper stickers although they often stick through magnetism rather than glue. The exact message is unclear; but, like the Nigerian guy, they perform the useful function of indicating that the owner is on the road not to get somewhere, nor certainly to concede your right-of-way, but to make you aware of some aspect about herself.
So much for "Vague." Everything else in the category is —
- No Farms, No Food
This bumper sticker uses alliteration (which means a couple of Fs) to make the crucial point that anyone who likes a good meal owes a debt of gratitude to the farmer. Unfortunately, there is no column for "gratitude" in the federal budget; and no one was proposing that farms be made illegal, nor that people be prohibited from eating. (Except in New York City.) A nationwide boycott of farms is likewise off the table, as it were.
The bumper sticker also implies that there would be no farms, and therefore no food, if it were not for federal farm programs that shovel loot at Archer-Daniels-Midland simply for giving back some of it, in advance, to the campaigns of Senator Bob Dole — or occasionally, shovel it at the family farmer, for doing what ADM does, only less efficiently.
This famous bumper sticker emerged in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Each letter is the symbol of various religions. (To complain that "peace" and "trans-gender" are technically not religions is to misunderstand the mindset of the owner.) As with most truly bad bumper stickers, cleverness is the key here. To respond to a missile attack on Manhattan and the Pentagon with the idea that the victims strive to be nicer to the attackers so the victims can think better of themselves is nonsense. This is why the bumper sticker reads, "Coexist" — and why far fewer bumper stickers read, "Surrender".
- Endless War
This is the bumper sticker with the hand lettering that edits it to read "End this war." Leaving aside why anyone would expect a strategy for successfully ending a war to fit on a bumper sticker, this one succinctly made the point that the Iraq War was bogging down under George W. Bush, and helped elect Barack Obama, who — only one Presidential campaign later — "declared victory and went home," to use a Vietnam-era cliché. It would take a full two years more for him to realize that the enemy did not support his declaration and for him to re-insert "technical advisers," as though he were a mocha-colored LBJ. Happily, whatever comes next will still be "Bush's fault."
- Free Tibet
This bumper sticker's owner would be aghast to hear that she is advocating an Endless War with a nuclear-armed Red China, but she certainly has not figured out any other way to wrest Tibet free of Chinese military occupation, and would surely insist that it is unfair to expect that she come up with one.
- Abortion Stops a Beating Heart
It is a staple of pro-life political campaigns that "alive" means "legal person." "Staple" means so intrinsic that no one thinks about it — or so they hope — until the cub reporter traps the candidate for Sheriff into admitting that he does intend for his deputies to draw their service weapons against surgeons.
In fact, fishing also stops a beating heart, and so does putting the family pet to sleep, eating at Chick-fil-A, and undergoing open-heart surgery. Also, masturbation and menstruation both "end human life." And no one is proposing 72-hour waiting periods for any of them. Actually, Fred Phelps did once.
- I'm Voting for the Children
The owner of this little ditty is certainly not voting for the children, as children are not allowed onto the voting rolls (outside of Scotland) and certainly not onto the ballot itself (outside of the Oscars®). No one is "voting for the puppies," nor even for the kittens. As before, however, some of the worst bumper stickers for making sense are the best for permanent re-election. Saying that the only reason to oppose a big spending program is hate of all the recipients is so moronic that no one is ever willing to step forward to rebut it.
- Support the Jobs Bond
Although this bumper sticker appears only in Maine, the notion that we can be prosperous simply by borrowing more from each other is widespread.
One often wonders how it is that such vapid bumper stickers remain on car bumpers for so long (even, in the case of Endless War, when the other guy gets elected and it becomes his embarrassingly Endless War). The answer lies with modern chemistry of plastics and adhesives. Look closely and you will see how the owner tried to remove the bumper sticker he is proudly displaying next to the one for the candidate for Governor in 2006, and could only tediously remove tiny chips from each corner before he gave up.