Bumper Sticker Politics
On my way back to work, I noticed a car in from of me with a bumper sticker printed with the following, “Government is the problem, not the solution.” And after a brief irrational reaction, I thought to myself, “what the fuck is that supposed to convey?” I immediately decided to forgo my actual work and write a post about “bumper sticker politics.”
On a side note, I thought I’d come up with a clever name that could encapsulate the pervasive type of political discourse commonly engaged in by the American populace via Facebook, Twitter, and yes, their vehicle’s bumper. Unfortunately, I’m less original than I hoped. Nevertheless, the title is fitting.
Regardless, the pervasiveness of “bumper sticker politics” is deeply troubling and I’ll return to this point later on in the post after addressing this specific instance.
What the fuck is that supposed to convey?
At first glance, I thought, “this is clearly a fuckwad conservative unaware they’re driving on a public road funded by government enforced taxation policies.” My own preconceived notions injected meaning into an essentially meaningless statement. Sure, in our current political climate it is probably safe to assume this particular individual is a conservative, but that’s irrelevant to my underlying point.
After I questioned my initial emotional reaction (something “bumper sticker politics” are designed to invoke), I thought, “wait, what the fuck? That bumper sticker is either an intentional troll, or the individual who put it on their vehicle never thought about the sticker’s implications.”
Seriously, without making assumptions about the individual, e.g. is he/she liberal/conservative, what does, “Government is the problem, not the solution,” supposed to mean? Let’s drop the subject of the slogan and leave it open for any subject’s insertion via the following syntax: “__ is the problem, not the solution”
- “Gun Control is the problem, not the solution.”
- “The 2nd Amendment is the problem, not the solution.”
- “Conservatism is the problem, not the solution.”
- “Liberalism is the problem, not the solution.”
You get the point, I hope.
We live in a Democratic Republic, how can government be the problem?
Long story short, it can’t. At least insofar as you accept democracy to be the best form of government that’s been tried.
“Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” - Churchill, Speech in the House of Commons (11 November 1947)
Maybe you don’t, maybe you’re into monarchies, or oligarchies, or perhaps pure democracies? Regardless, that statement is still meaningless, e.g. unless you’re advocating for anarchy, you’ll be the propping up one form of government or the other. Government is not the problem, it’s a tool that facilitates a solution.
“Once wide coercive powers are given to governmental agencies for particular purposes, such powers cannot be effectively controlled by democratic assemblies.” - Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty
Sure, the point can be made that our government has been granted powers that violate the principles of individual freedom. However, is it not the case that the very same government is the means by which those powers are to be revoked or balanced?
Ok, what’s your fucking point?
I think I’ve spent enough time on this particular instance of “bumper sticker politics.” In fact, it may seem pointless to put so much effort into the analysis. Allow me to explain.
I wanted to demonstrate the asinine nature of this particular instance as the precursor to demonstrating the same nature of “bumper sticker politics” as a whole. These statements are, by and large, shared on social media or stuck on our vehicles without the slightest attempt at critical thought or rational justification.
Remember my initial emotional reaction? I imagine the train of thought the purchaser had when they bought the bumper sticker was something akin to, “Ha, stupid fucking communist, liberal government, force me to accept gay marriage, health care, and gun control, I’ll show them.” Or it could have gone something like, “Ha, stupid fucking racist, conservative government building a Mexican border wall, hamstringing gay rights, and cutting corporate taxes, I’ll show them.”
Either way, what the fuck? Is the level of American indolence so radical that no one can get beyond their irrationality and think? Sure, I fell in the trap. They got me, but they only got me temporarily. When I realized I was reacting irrationally, I put in the effort to, as my son often hears on Sesame Street, “Stop and Think”. I wish I could say I catch myself acting irrationally in all instances, but I don’t. Sometimes, I have to royally fuck up before I think, “what the hell was I thinking?” So sure, I can’t say I adhere to my own beliefs in all instances, but I honestly try and I’m getting better.
Right, but again, what’s your fucking point?
How do you think “fake news” gets propagated? How do you think doomsday conspiracies get shared a million times? I’ve honestly lost count of how many times life on Earth is supposed to end, or how many babies George Bush sacrifices at Bohemian Grove. Were you aware Jay-Z is integral to the Illuminati? Or, more closely related to the point of this article, are you aware the “students” you see being interviewed after tragic mass shootings are actually paid actors? Well, so are numerous, presumably rational adults, on my social media feeds. I could literally spend days analyzing the contradictions and falsehoods present in the posts I see people, who I know can type questions into Google, share posts that are patently false.
If you watch a YouTube video and it claims the Earth is flat, do you believe it? How about a Facebook post where someone took a cell phone picture of themselves holding up secret government documents proving the government is under the control of alien lifeforms, do you believe that? You’re probably thinking, “obviously not, that’s fucking retarded.” But the fact is, many people do. Again, returning to subject matter related to this post, how about when the video or post claims students who survived a mass shooting are paid actors?
“If we are not serious about facts and what’s true and what’s not – and particularly in an age of social media where so many people are getting their information in soundbites and snippets off their phones – if we can’t discriminate between serious arguments and propaganda, then we have problems.” Obama, Remarks by President Obama and Chancellor Merkel of Germany in a Joint Press Conference
Here’s the thing, though. Obama’s campaign, Hillary’s campaign, Trump’s campaign, etc., are all guilty of manipulating statistics and twisting Truth to fit their truths. If you disagree, Google debate fact checks, they’re all guilty to some extent, obviously some more than others. These instances are far more nuanced and often pass the “smell test” on initial review. We as the American populace need to place a stronger emphasis on identifying and rectifying these situations. But how can we expect to combat subtle twisting of the Truth when blatant perversions are shared without blinking an eye?
Let me share an anecdote. I recently read a post shared by a group I follow called The Cato Institute. This post claimed Che Guevara was a racist, opened concentration camps, and murdered hundreds of people via extrajudicial executions. Despite the fact plenty of people in my high school social group sported shirts with Che’s face pasted on the front, I never bothered to research him, but I was familiar with who he was, or at least who I thought he was. I thought, “Surely, people wouldn’t idolize someone who, if true, would be a complete hypocrite and massive piece of shit.”
“If you tremble with indignation at every injustice, then you are a comrade of mine.” Che, The Quotable Rebel : Political Quotations for Dangerous Times
I decided to Wikipedia, Che Guevara. There wasn’t a single instance of any information supporting the article shared by the Cato Institute. In fact, there was evidence directly to the contrary on Wikipedia and in Che’s address to the United Nations. I responded to the Cato Institute’s Tweet and mentioned the lack of references in the article (it was an op-ed), lack of supporting evidence on Wikipedia, and the apparent evidence to the contrary. Yes, I know Wikipedia isn’t always reliable and I couldn’t even use it as a source in university, but it is usually a good starting point, but I digress. I could have stopped there and considered the article to be hearsay given the author provided absolutely no references to support the claims and ignored all the dipshits blasting me on Twitter about being a brainwashed socialist libtard, but I didn’t. I spent hours researching the topic and found corroborating evidence for the much of the post. Yes, there is valid debate on the subject and I’m not making a case for either side, the point is I found corroborating evidence. Regardless, I responded to myself on Twitter to state as much. What’s funny is I got a firsthand experience of how truly prevelant indolence is on social media. I continued getting attacked as a communist loving Che fanboy despite the fact all of these responders could have read the very next Tweet and realized I spent hours finding corroborating evidence, but they didn’t, even after I indicated they do so. Moreover, I never defended Che in my original response, I simply stated the lack of evidence in the op-ed and on Wikipedia. On a side note, it was suggested that Wikipedia is integral part of the liberal indoctrination machine, so is college, apparently. This interaction is why I no longer have a Twitter account. Honestly, if I weren’t as heavily invested in Facebook via pictures and connections with family and friends, “bumper sticker politics,” amoung other concerns (privacy, data mismangement, etc.), is why I wouldn’t have a Facebook account either. Regardless, maintaining my Facebook account has gave birth to a topic I may address in the future via another long winded, rambling blog post, which is, do I have a moral imparative to respond to “bumper sticker politics” on Facebook and other media sources? Again, I digress.
Goddamnit, man, what’s your fucking point?
Whew, what was I talking about again? Oh, that fucking bumper sticker, that’s right. The pervasiveness of “bumper sticker politics” is deeply troubling. Moreover, the prevalence appears to be result of self-ordained ignorance rooted in indolence. Literally every instance of “bumper sticker politics” I’ve seen is resolvable via Google and a negligible amount of one’s time. Why then is it so prevalent? Why do people continue to engage in the spread of misinformation and blatant falsehoods? Why is the pervasiveness not more easily recognized by those involved in its propagation? The answers to those questions are another topic in and of themselves and certainly one worth exploring, but I’ve rambled long enough. My ultimate point is this, there are serious problems in the world and major obstacles to overcome. Humanity is on the verge of a new epoch and our progress is being hamstringed by the forces that give rise to “bumper sticker politics.” We as a people need to reverse this trend. We as a people need to destroy “bumper sticker politics” and weed out the forces conducive to such benighted ignorance, and we can, easily. How? By following the advice of the great sage, Elmo, “Stop and Think.” Oh, and not being an indolent fuckwad, that too.