Why I Obviously Care More than You Do

Lately, it seems like the measure of how much a person cares about something is determined by the number of ribbons they wear on their lapels, and how many ribbon stickers they stick to the back of their cars. Here’s an example:

I was driving up I-4 to Orlando last week when I noticed a convoy of SUVs — by far the most popular vehicles on the road that day (or every day, for that matter) — speeding past me at at least 95 mph. (I was doing 80mph and these guys were leaving me in their dust, so they had to be going seriously fast.) Ignoring the fact that since Florida’s as flat as game board SUV’s are rarely needed, it struck me as oddly fascinating that each of these vehicles had no less than 10 “I care about X-Cause” stickers each stuck on to their backs; “I support the troops”, “I support America”, “I support breast cancer research”, “I support safe driving” (sic), “I support ribbons” — you name it.

It may go without saying, but for each 10 “I care more than you do” stickers, there was at least one “Bush/Cheney 2004” sticker adorning each of these gas guzzlers.

That got me thinking. Since when is it cool to prove how much you care about a cause based on the number of stickers you have on your car?

I remember watching The Rush Limbaugh Show a few years back when it was still on TV. Once, he spent almost 10 minutes making fun of Democrats for the number of ribbons they wore on their lapels. He showed a video of Hillary Clinton wearing a ribbon for every possible cause fashionable, and then started his rampage: “I care more than you do,” he said, mockingly puffing out his chest, “because I wear more pins than you do. That should show everyone that I care more.”

For years, conservatives would mock anyone who would dare wear more than one ribbon on their lapel (if that). If it was fashionable for liberals to do it then, by God, conservatives wouldn’t have it! Of course, this was before Bush brought his Sales and Marketing team up to Washington with him, before ribbons supporting “the troops” (sic) started showing up.

Now in 2005, we have conservatives doing the same thing as liberals did once upon a time. Instead of their lapels, they decorate their humongous SUVs with stickers proclaiming their faith (gotta have that fish!), their politics (can’t forget Bush, God’s chosen man!), and of course, sticker upon sticker proclaiming how big and humble their heart is. (Pharisee, anyone?) Of course, if you don’t have a sticker in your car you’re obviously not in support of our troops, and therefore the war. And if you’re not in support of our troops the war, you’re obviously not a Republican, and everyone knows that you’re either a Republican or… you support the terrorists! (Don’t you agree?)

By the way, here’s a tip for you in the ribbon/sticker club: if you don’t have enough room for both your ribbon sticker and your fish, just turn the sticker over on its side. That way, the sticker looks like a fish! 2-in1! Amazing, and oh so clever!

Now before you would-be human shields for Karl Rove start pelting me with your “you liberals make me sick” remarks, let’s get something straight: I’m a conservative. Not a Republican. A conservative. I support gun rights, I don’t support abortion, and I believe that an individual’s rights, as defined in the Bill of Rights and in John Mills’ On Liberty, should be protected. I also believe that sound, scientifically backed environmental policies –not those watered down by the Cheney’s henchmen, but those reviewed by real scientists — should be observed and used to assist in defining environmental policy. I also believe in not plotting to lie to the American public to satisfy a personal vendetta (Downing Street Memos) even in cases where the ends justify the means, or to let criminals like Tom DeLay give away $1.5 billion dollars of tax payer money to his friends. In short, I believe things like truth, honesty, and morality to be conservative ideals.

But of course, who am I to talk. Although I care about our troops, I don’t have a yellow ribbon sticker on my car. Although I’m a conservative, I’m don’t have a Bush campaign sticker. Although I care enough about moral issues to put my money where my mouth is (it’s called donating at least 10% of your income — try it), I don’t decorate my house with ribbons. And although I’m a Christian, I don’t have a Jesus-fish on my car, nor do I cram Creationism down everyone’s throats. (Actually I like the Jesus-fish. I just have a problem seeing people proclaiming to be Christians driving like maniacs, endangering other lives, cutting people off on the roads, speeding like they’re in a NASCAR race, and who apparently don’t care enough about their family or others to slow down just a bit, even if it means being 15 minutes late.)

Then again maybe I’m just old fashioned. I like my ethics transparent, my word to be my bond, and my country to be respected by the world, feared by its enemies. The problem is that lately, the enemy seems to be everywhere, and everyone who isn’t a Republican, and who doesn’t have at least 10 stickers on their car.

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