Where am I going to put my Joe Biden bumper sticker?

my truck

The above picture, which I posted randomly a couple of days ago, reminds me:

I need to figure out where to put my Joe Biden sticker when I get one. Which I expect will be soon. A couple of weeks back, I ran into my friends Sally and Mark Huguley. Mark was pulling up to the curb in front of St. Peter’s after Mass to pick up Sally, and Sally told him to pull up a few more feet so I could see the Biden sticker on the back of their vehicle.

I was, of course, envious. I need to reach out to Kendall Corley or Scott Harriford, two Smith campaign alumni who are now running the Biden operation in SC, to see if they can get me one. And a yard sign, when they’re available. Time’s a wastin’!

But then I look at the back of my truck, and think, where should I put it? I mean, it’s going to spoil my perfect bipartisan symmetry. All through the campaign, I had my James Smith sticker and my Micah Caskey sticker. And while I was a bit self-conscious parking it at HQ at first, that wasn’t my target audience.

My idea was this: Our single greatest obstacle to winning — and in the end, this is what defeated us probably more than any other factor — was that most white voters in the state have some kind of disability, a mental block. They are incapable of conceiving of voting for someone with a D after his name. They don’t think it’s a thing that a person can do.

If I could just get ONE voter, driving behind me, to think, “Whoa! This guy who votes for Republicans just like I do is also voting for James Smith. I wonder why,” then it would be worth any dirty looks I got from Democrats.

Oh, and if you think people don’t have thoughts like that, you’re wrong. Humans are hugely suggestible. Maybe they shouldn’t be, but the Bandwagon Effect is one of the most reliable factors in politics (as ridiculous as I think that is). If people see that other people are voting for someone, they are at least slightly more likely to do so themselves.

I know that some people noticed. The first time I had occasion during the campaign to meet with Democratic Party Chairman Trav Robertson, I mentioned something about my bumper stickers, and he said, “Yeah, I’ve heard about that.” And I thought, Yeah, I’ll bet you have. I knew by that time that there were some Democrats who didn’t like that James had hired someone like me, and it wasn’t surprising that some of them would have brought such a detail to Trav’s attention.

But again, Democrats weren’t my target audience. I was trolling for persuadable Republicans. (And yes, that’s a thing. Here’s one of our Republican endorsements, and a video to go with it.)

Anyway, now I have to figure out where to put my Biden sticker. My first thought is to put it right in the middle, but then my tailgate will be 2/3 Democratic. Which is not the effect I’m going for. But then, does that matter, since Joe is running in the Democratic Primary? I mean, what do I care what Republicans think in this context? Worrying about being perfectly bipartisan is more about worrying about what people think of ME, isn’t it? And that shouldn’t be a factor.

I could put it over the Smith sticker, since the campaign’s over and all, but I won’t do that. My experience last year is something I’m proud of, and I’m going to continue to wear it on my sleeve. Or tailgate.

Anyway, look how shiny and new it still is. It looks good. By contrast, Micah’s sticker has faded considerably.

Of course, being focused on the Democratic primary, I could just cover Micah’s sticker until after Feb. 9. But I’m not going to do that. I don’t want to abandon my representative, even for a short while. He’s got re-election next year.

So… I’m thinking the Biden sticker needs to go in the middle. And I need to get with Micah to get a fresher sticker sometime between now and next spring…

51 thoughts on “Where am I going to put my Joe Biden bumper sticker?

  1. Doug T

    I sent Joe a little something 2-3 weeks ago but to get a sticker I gotta make another donation. Well, I don’t know bout that. I mentioned before I signed up for emails from several campaigns so I would know their SC schedule so I could check them out. All I’m getting are emails begging for money. Constantly. Every day. Nothin but. I feel sorry for them needing to think of clever subject lines to get people’s attention. It’s sad.

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      The next clever approach I see on a fund-raising email will be my first.

      They’re SO desperate.

      For awhile, I was in charge of dealing with our vendor who sent out fund-raising emails, even to the point of writing some of them. Fortunately, shortly after Scott Hogan came on as campaign manager, he took that off my plate. Which I deeply appreciated. I really hated dealing with that….

      Reply
    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      I think I got stuck with that at first because my predecessor had a dual role, having some finance duty as well as communications…

      But I just signed on to be Toby Ziegler…

      Reply
    3. Mark Stewart

      The bumper stickers are $5 bucks on Joe’s site.

      Me? I just want one of those ones with Trump’s hair blowing in the breeze and the word No under.

      Reply
      1. David T

        I’d prefer one with Biden’s dentures falling out or Sanders with yet another band-aid on his face with the word No under it.

        Reply
  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    Oh, and yeah, I realize — especially as I was posting it on Twitter — that I’m setting myself up by asking the world where I can put something…

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Next time Joe comes to SC, he and I are going to ride around in the truck with the windows down and holler at all the pretty girls, stuff like “I hope your Daddy’s got a BIG fence around the yard!”

      Reply
        1. David T

          Bidens touching you too… he simply can not talk to someone without touching them. Maybe he does it so that he’ll have an extra set of hands should his dentures fall out.

          Reply
    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      By the way, I have the same bumper stickers on my Volvo. So there’s that backup. But the truck will probably last longer. The Volvo is a 1998, and my truck is a 2000…

      Reply
      1. bud

        I thought our car lineup was old. I drive a 2004 Matrix; my wife a 2009 Civic. But my son drives a 1995 Corolla he bought a year and half ago for $500. When we flew to NY last summer he picked us up at the airport and I was dreading the ride in an un-airconditioned car. To my great surprise when we got in and he cranked up the AC and it worked fine. Some time you just get lucky. (But don’t tell Doug :) )

        Reply
        1. Bob Amundson

          Our 1999 Ford Explorer Sport (220 hp) took us on our 11,000 mile retirement journey last summer, including to the top of a 10,000 foot peak, on a dirt road, in Utah. No problems at all. Our RV (a 2018 Ford E-450 Sunseeker) TOAD is a 2003 Cavalier. Both great vehicles.

          Reply
  3. Bryan Caskey

    Still haven’t put any sticker on my new truck I got three months ago. Sort of enjoying the blank canvas…

    Reply
  4. Barry

    I hate bumper stickers. I even hate the dealer stickers that car places put on cars for advertising. I peel those off immediately.

    Reply
    1. Bob Amundson

      I wish I would have gotten bumper stickers for interesting beers wife Joan and I had on last summer’s adventure: Moose Spit in Jackson, WY, and Surly at a St.Paul Saints baseball game in Minnesota. Both were interesting IPAs, but I’m not sure if James would appreciate having those two bumper stickers next to his.

      FWIW, when I have a beer, it is usually because I like the name AND it has a high ABV. I just had a “Space Dust” at the Cock n’ Bull. Nice citrus (grapefruit) notes …

      Reply
  5. David T

    Wouldn’t the best location be where one of the prior election bumper stickers is currently? Or do you still have vehicles with a Mondale-Ferraro bumper sticker on it?

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I wasn’t the communications director for the Mondale-Ferraro campaign.

      I’m proud of my service in that cause. My Dad still wears hats that say “Navy” on them, even though he retired in 1978. It’s a similar thing.

      Dad likes the fact that this causes other veterans of the Service to speak to him. He likes making that connection.

      And I like it when I see another car in traffic that still has a Smith or Smith/Norrell sticker — which is a fairly common sight; I’m far from alone.

      Just for second, it gives me a kind of warm, friendly feeling toward that person.

      Maybe it’s something like what people who identify with one of the parties feel. I’ve never been able to feel comfortable with either party, but I’ve always kind of envied the comfort that people must feel from being a part of a tribe. At least, I assume it gives them a good feeling. I can’t imagine how anyone could force themselves to ally themselves with either group unless there’s some powerful personal bond going on, a sort of bulwark against feeling alone.

      Anyway, that’s about as close as I come to that sort of feeling…

      Reply
  6. bud

    Maybe it’s something like what people who identify with one of the parties feel.
    -Brad

    Here’s how I rank various political parties on how much respect I give them:

    1. Democratic
    2. Green
    3. Socialist
    4. Libertarian
    5. Republican
    6. Communist
    7. Fascist
    8. Nazi

    For me it’s not really a matter of any great, undying affection for the Democratic party. It’s really just a matter of there being no other option to consider. If there is a Democrat that I just cannot vote for, say Alvin Green, I’ll either choose a third party or not vote at all. The CURRENT Republican party is quit simply a cancer on the body politic and unworthy of consideration. They are the party of Trump, McConnel, Devin Nunez and Jim Jordan. Any hope of getting back to a normal sense of order rests entirely with the Democratic Party.

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      If I did a ranking like that, “Federalist” would be at the top. :)

      But seriously, I’m talking about the tribal thing. I think people draw comfort from feeling they’re part of a tribe that always agrees with them. Which is why so many people go through the mental gymnastics necessary to embrace party platforms, whereas to me, that seems an impossible intellectual task. Both of our major parties embrace so many things, in their bids to create tents big enough to assemble a majority, that it’s impossible for either of them to avoid embracing a number of things that are anathema to me.

      That said, I’ll say again as I’ve said in the past that I could have been comfortable being either a Democrat or a Republican in, say, 1960. Since then, both parties have gone down paths where I can’t follow. With the Democrats it’s their rejection of the postwar liberal consensus on America’s role in the world (ever since Scoop Jackson), the embrace of Identity Politics, and abortion.

      With the Republicans it’s the embrace of antiintellectualism, and especially the many little deals with the Devil they’ve done in positioning themselves as the White Man’s Party.

      I do from time to time take my own temperature, asking “Do you really lean toward one party or the other?” I of course asked that of myself while working in the campaign last year. But then I’d run into one of those non-negotiable tenets the party insists upon, and I’d realize once again that no, I’m not one of them. I can’t BE one of them…

      Reply
      1. bud

        With the Democrats it’s their rejection of the postwar liberal consensus on America’s role in the world (ever since Scoop Jackson), the embrace of Identity Politics, and abortion.
        -Brad

        I strongly disagree but do understand your concerns with postwar liberal consensus and abortion. But I’m struggling to understand what you mean by “embrace of Identity Politics”. Seems like the Democrats are attempting to shape the nation by addressing issues that affect various minority groups adversely. It just seems like a matter of civil rights to embrace our differences rather than attempt to live in a world filled with ostracising others because they are somehow the “other”. This to me sets the Dems apart in a positive way from the thinly veiled, bigoted approach taken by the Republicans. If you can’t accept that LGBTQ, Muslims, Hispanic and others with a different world view and set of life experiences should have legal access to ALL the benefits of American society then perhaps you should be a Republican. The Democratic party is a big tent but has no room for bigots.

        Reply
      2. Mr. Smith

        “With the Democrats it’s their … embrace of identity politics….”

        “Identity politics” is only disparaged when it’s about anybody other than white folks. The thing is, what’s now called “identity politics” is just a reaction to centuries of identity politics practiced by the white majority. It’s an expression of one the great through lines of American history: the demand for genuine inclusion.

        https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2019/02/07/americas-original-identity-politics/

        Reply
        1. Mr. Smith

          And as for this:
          “With the Democrats it’s their rejection of the postwar liberal consensus on America’s role in the world”

          Please describe specific, significant instances where either the Clinton or Obama Administrations turned away from the “postwar liberal consensus” in American foreign policy.

          Reply
          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            They did not. Before Trump, every president of either part hewed to that consensus, once they were in office.

            As I’ve mentioned before, when Obama came in for his endorsement interview in 2008, the first question I asked him (it was the first question I asked all aspirants to the presidency) was about that. I was quite satisfied with his answer.

            Every president, up to now, understood that that was something you didn’t screw around with.

            But that is NOT the way many Democrats talk. And as time passes, they are more and more inclined to reject that consensus. There are 23 candidates running for president on the Democratic side, and Joe Biden is the only one I trust on this score. Just as Hillary Clinton was the only one I trusted last time around. He is the one who I feel confident respects the bipartisan consensus that ruled from 1945 to 2016.

            Most of them don’t mention the rest of the world but spend all their time on domestic policy. This has been a trend among Democrats for more than a generation now. If you’ll recall, Bernie got furious when one of the debates in 2016 was changed to focus on national security after terror attacks in Europe.

            It’s not NECESSARILY because none of them care about the world. But among Democrats, they know they can’t win talking about it. E.J. Dionne had a good piece about why this is last month. I meant to write about it at the time, but didn’t get around to it.

            Here it is

            Oh, and if it makes you feel better, Republicans have been rejecting the consensus as well — or Trump wouldn’t be president. In recent years, it has seemed that McCain and Graham were the only two traditional internationalists left. And McCain’s dead, and Graham has gone ’round the bend.

            Reply
            1. Mr. Smith

              And here’s another example of the use of vague generalities that don’t really mean anything, like “most” Democrats say this or “many Democrats” say that. In the process you make mountains out of molehills. Simply because “the Democrats” don’t talk about foreign affairs as much or as often as you’d have them do does not mean they no longer believe in or are indifferent about the postwar international liberal order. Random comments by this or that Democrat are insignificant when compared to policies actually pursued by a President and by Congress. And making absurd suggestions about McCain and Graham being the ONLY ones who still uphold the liberal world order does not help your case. Nor does insinuating that Dionne’s column offers a critique of Democrats in this regard, when it doesn’t.

              It’s probably best for no one to engage with you on the presidential race, since you’re so enamored with Biden that it undermines your ability to be objective about that contest.

              Reply
              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                Mr. Smith, I’m very sorry we have trouble having a civil conversation, because the main thing I want this blog to be is a civil forum.

                I apologize that my choice of words, “can you follow me?,” insulted you.

                I think what I was TRYING to say is, can you bear with me while I make a point that I think you are overlooking, or dismissing too easily.

                The thing is, we’ve gotten to the point where you take umbrage at what I’m saying without looking carefully at the point I’m making. For instance, I didn’t exactly say that McCain and Graham were “the ONLY ones who still uphold the liberal world order.” What I said was that among Republicans, they seemed to be the only ones, and one of them is dead and the other is too busy bowing down before Trump — the greatest threat to the liberal international order we’ve ever seen — to stand up for his principles, other than sporadically.

                My point there was to say this is not just some criticism leveled at Democrats.

                And please point me to the place where I said “Dionne’s column offers a critique of Democrats” on this point? What I said was that he had written a good column about WHY Democrats believe “they can’t win talking about” foreign affairs.

                Probably the part of E.J.’s column that is most pertinent is the part where he talks about the main divisions in the electorate on our role in the world. The plurality, 33 percent, can be described as “Trump nationalists.” Then 28 percent are “global activists” who stress the importance of international cooperation on climate change, disease, poverty, inequality and equal rights.

                The smallest group are the people who hold the values of the postwar international order — the order that the U.S. helped create and lead in order to make sure there would not be a World War III. That group is at only 18 percent now among the public — although much higher among “those who tend to dominate mainstream foreign policy debates.”

                E.J. writes that the second and third groups together outnumber the Trumpistas, so it would be great if they could get together. Unfortunately, he’s pessimistic about that happening.

                As for getting back to a bipartisan foreign policy, fuhgeddaboudit:

                Among Democrats, 48 percent are global activists and 10 percent are Trump nationalists. Among Republicans, 61 percent are nationalists and only 7 percent are activists. Internationalists account for roughly a fifth of each party….

                And in the end, the Dem candidates have “powerful incentives for them to avoid aggravating Democratic foreign policy rifts.” Which is why Democratic presidential candidates aren’t “talking more about foreign policy.”

                Reply
                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Speaking of E.J….

                  He sent me a Twitter DM this morning saying,

                  Hi Brad, I am in Charleston for the Third way meeting. By any chance are you here or coming? Thanks!
                  Warmest,
                  EJ

                  Unfortunately, I had to admit:

                  No, I didn’t even know about it! Guess I’m out of the loop. Sounds like my kind of meeting, though. I look forward to seeing what you write about it!

                  Yep, I’m name-dropping, shamelessly. I like knowing E.J. He’s a good guy.

                  And I’m sorry I won’t get to see him on this trip to SC…

                2. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Apparently, here’s what he’s talking about.

                  I knew about the BEA meeting, but didn’t know about the Third Way involvement. The Clinton-Blair types don’t get much ink these days. Which is a terribly shame. The closest we can get is… drumroll… Joe Biden.

                  I know the BEA mainly as the people who sent the campaign a questionnaire that Phil Chambers and I sweated over last year, hoping to get their backing…

                3. Mr. Smith

                  They don’t talk about it AS MUCH AS other things – because that’s the way it’s been in every election for decades, except when the US is deeply engaged in a hot war (Vietnam or Iraq) – and even then foreign policy often has remained a secondary matter. Their approach this time doesn’t make Dems in any way “weak” on the postwar liberal order.

                4. Mr. Smith

                  “you take umbrage at what I’m saying without looking carefully at the point I’m making.”

                  Yes, I know that’s how you’d like to frame it.

                  But actually, you’ve already identified the real problem on several occasions, when you wrote about preferring op-eds to hard news. That attitude lends itself to favoring opinion over objectivity.

                5. Brad Warthen Post author

                  “Yes, I know that’s how you’d like to frame it.”

                  Mr. Smith, why all the hostility? Why is every conversation with you tinged by this testiness?

                  What have I done to you, and when?

                  It’s not this conversation or that one. Taken alone, the level of friction at any given moment is fairly minor. But over and over, on topic after topic, I have to wonder.

                  I think you and I could probably find a lot of areas of agreement. So why do we always seem to clash?

          2. bud

            This is about the most weasely of weasel phrases: “postwar liberal consensus on America’s role in the world”. What in heavens name does that even mean? Postwar? Which war. I assume WW 2 but it’s pretty vague. Liberal. Please. Let’s use the word correctly and not in some pre-historic way that doesn’t even make sense in 2019. Consensus? Whose consensus? America’s? Are you referring to the USA or all of America? Role in the world? That could mean just about anything. Why not be specific like defending our membership in NATO or in the latest climate change accord or an international trade agreement or troops in Okinawa? That way we can at least have a sensible conversation. This is nothing but a pile of mush.

            Reply
              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                Not that the average person on the street knows it, or likes it if he DOES know it.

                In the context of arguing that the strategy needs to evolve if “internationalists are to regain the trust of the American people and meet the challenges of the coming decades,” this piece in The Atlantic gives a nice history of the notion of “liberal international order” and the fact that it was always a bit of a hard sell to Joe Sixpack:

                Americans have never been particularly enamored with the liberal international order. (It’s a clunky, partisan-sounding phrase—especially to Republicans—and conjures images of shadowy, unaccountable forces controlling the world.) After World War II, the Truman administration sought to deepen America’s engagement with Europe, only to run into fierce public resistance. As Averell Harriman, the then–U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union, put it, Americans “wanted to settle all of our differences with Russia and then go to the movies and drink Coke.” In late 1945, President Harry Truman tried to provide an interest-bearing loan to bail out Britain, which was on the brink of economic collapse stemming from the cost of World War II. Britain was enraged that the United States would charge interest. The American people opposed the loan anyway, asking what business it was of theirs. In the end, the loan went through, not because Americans were convinced of some sense of broader responsibility, but because they worried that inaction could lead to the spread of communism throughout Europe.

                The story would repeat itself time and again: The policy elites believed the best way to protect U.S. interests was through a postwar Western order organized around free trade, institutions, and a U.S. military presence in Europe and Asia. They couldn’t drum up enough political support for the idea until they could sell it as a vital part of the struggle with the Soviets.

                The policy of supporting the liberal international order enjoyed great success. Democracy spread. Economic growth brought hundreds of millions out of poverty. Dozens of countries joined old alliances and institutions, spreading democracy, human rights, and market economies in the process. It was good strategy, although the term liberal international order was hardly used during the Cold War. While G. John Ikenberry brought the term to prominence in the 1990s and 2000s in his scholarship about American postwar strategy, it did not appear in The New York Times until 2012. Western foreign-policy thinkers saw it as a way of preserving the institutional and alliance architecture created during the Cold War, while opening up the Western bloc of democracies so all nations could participate in a rules-based system if they so chose….

                Reply
        2. Brad Warthen Post author

          “Identity politics” is only disparaged when it’s about anybody other than white folks.

          Well, that certainly is the most absurd thing I’ve read today.

          I don’t know about you, but in the world I have lived in for the past 65 years, there is NOTHING that is more objectionable or more soundly rejected than white folks clinging to their whiteness. When I was a kid, Nazism had been defeated fairly recently, and we knew who the bad guys were.

          There is nothing more disgusting or for that matter pathetic than neo-Nazis and other kinds of white supremacists. It’s plainly evil and antisocial to build an ideology out of one’s demographic identity.

          Now, can you follow me while I take the next step and say that just because it’s NOT about whiteness doesn’t make such an ideology OK. It’s still objectionable to have political ideas that embrace race or gender or what have you as a worldview.

          Argue with me, but don’t insult me by suggesting that white identity is something that’s OK by me. That’s about as gross an insult as you could come up with, and I would assume that you know that…

          Reply
          1. Mr. Smith

            Instead of trying to understand what I’m referring to, you fly off the handle and try to pose as the offended party while tossing off insults, like “can you follow me,” as if I were a child or an idiot. If you’d taken a minute to read the article linked, you’d have gained a better appreciation of what I was referring to. Sure, maybe you still won’t “believe” it. But as the old saying goes, opinions are like butt-holes: everybody’s got one.

            People who throw around generalities like “identity politics” without first gaining a fuller appreciation of what that term implies don’t have an opinion on this matter that warrants respecting. And the pared down way you describe white identity politics in your response – confining it to Nazis and white supremacists — shows you don’t really have a full understanding of what’s involved. Identity politics is as old and as broad as America. It’s as American as that proverbial pie. As the article puts it: “There are no pre-identity politics, just as there are no pre-identity economics, in a country in which political, economic, and legal rights were only ever granted to some identity groups and not to others. The only thing new about ‘the omnipresent rhetoric of identity’ is the voices that have been added to it, reshaping it in ways that alarm and affront those who used to be its sole authors.”

            Reply
            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              As for the article to which you linked… thank you, but I’m a history major and am well familiar with the points it makes.

              In fact, my distaste for Identity Politics has its root in my understanding of history.

              Identity politics has ALWAYS been an objectionable thing, whether it’s Dixiecrats voting only for fellow white racists, “Known-Nothings” supporting only the native-born, ward heelers in a Chicago neighborhood making sure only Polish candidates get elected (or ones in Boston doing the same for the Irish), or what have you.

              Which takes me to what I said previously. Right after I regrettably caused you offense by saying “can you follow me,” I made the point that in my view, “just because it’s NOT about whiteness doesn’t make such an ideology OK. It’s still objectionable to have political ideas that embrace race or gender or what have you as a worldview.”

              Any time people start talking about “people like me” as opposed to looking at the things that unite us, it’s problematic. We have enough driving us apart in this country without that…

              Reply
              1. Mr. Smith

                “I’m a history major and am well familiar with the points it makes.”

                That’s a good one: Oh, I don’t need to learn anything, because I already know it all.

                Reply
                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  No, Mr. Smith. The information in that piece is pretty basic. We’re talking about fundamental historical themes. I would expect that anyone who has taken or read ANY history would be familiar with that material.

                  It’s not revealing anything hidden.

                  And as I said, the topic of that piece is the original reason why I’m turned off by identity politics. It’s a lesson I absorbed at a young age. Anytime anyone’s thinking is oriented along the lines of concern about “people like me,” things tend to go in a nonproductive direction, if not an outright ugly one…

    2. David T

      Democratic, Green, Socialist, and Communist aren’t they all socialism based parties? Couldn’t you lump Fascist and Nazi together too?

      If so couldn’t we shorten Bud’s list to
      1. Democratic
      2. Libertarian
      3. Republican
      4 Nazi

      Reply
      1. bud

        Hmm. Not sure I’d lump Communist with Democrats. As I understand Communism it’s a system that not only has the government own the means of production but also essentially bans private ownership of property. Don’t know any Democrat who believes that.

        Reply
      2. Barry

        Republicans and democrats embrace different forms of socialism. To pretend one does and one doesn’t is dishonest- and a big mistake.

        Reply

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