A Layered Legacy of Bumper Stickers, AKA Stickerstocracy

Before I set off on a walk the other day, I attempted to de-stress my right knee by doing some light leg stretches behind my truck. As I was balancing myself by holding on to the tailgate, it occurred to me that the above bumper sticker–which, as you can see, is tattered and faded–is a relic from the 2001-04 Georgia state flag controversy. This was an issue that I, like many native Georgians, felt extremely passionate about. In fact, I’m still very passionate about it. The fact that the flag I grew up with was essentially changed to placate the NCAA Final Four bigwigs–who threatened to pull the 2002 tournament out of Atlanta if the flag wasn’t changed in 2001–still appalls me. With that being said, I knew it was time to put this bumper sticker to rest. In the eight years I’ve had it on my truck, I’ve been called a racist as well as a “proud Georgian,” but it’s always generated constructive conversations about the controversy. For more on the history of the Georgia state flag, the New Georgia Encyclopedia is the most informative source that I’ve come across. Click here for that link, if you’re so inclined.

While on my quest for a bumper sticker to blanket the antiquated “Let Georgia Vote” one, I remembered back to my parents’ aversion to bumper stickers. Growing up, I loved bumper stickers–I actually had a whole clipboard and lap desk plastered with them. Anyway, I remember when I earned one of those “My Child is On the Honor Roll at Parker Mathis Elementary” bumper stickers. Or maybe it was for winning the citizenship award, I honestly forget. I was so excited because the bumper sticker colours matched the maroon and silver of our Nissan van. Busting a gut to slap it on the back of the van, Mama had to break it to me that this was not to be. Being the oldest of four, bright children, the van would’ve been plastered all the way across the back bumper had the trend been allowed to start! But the main sticking point–pun intended–is that she said it would never come off if we stuck it on. The compromise is that it got taped in the back window, which actually pleased me more since it was at eye level for everyone to see. Of course, once I got my first car–a 1985 BMW 318i–the first thing I did was to slap an Atlanta ’96 Olympics bumper sticker on the back. If I’m not mistaken, that one wouldn’t stay put on the rubber bumper. (Sign from God, perhaps?) Fast forward to 2004 when I got my current truck with a metal bumper, and I couldn’t wait to find the perfect sticker to seal on the bumper. It ended up being one of these, direct from the Williamson County Republican headquarters:

Of course, the OCD in me wanted some bumperrific symmetry, and that’s when the “Let Georgia Vote” sticker had its day in the sun (to get baked on my bumper for all eternity!). Thus began the never-ending cycle of stickering my current bumper. For as W.’s popularity waned–and as I couldn’t commit to a McCain-Palin sticker, poor old W. got layered over with this class act:

I actually love this sticker and don’t plan on layering over it. However, this illustrates the point that there’s no standard size for bumper stickers. Which is what I soon found out when I received my new one in the mail yesterday. It’s supposedly 70s vintage, though I’m thinking it’s more late 80s/early 90s:

How’s that for some layered legacy? At this point, with 230K+ miles on Taylor the Tacoma, I think it fits just perfectly. A word to the wise, though: Bumper stickers really, truly never go away–they’re stuck on your vehicle and in the realm of pop culture forever. So think before you start sticking, kids. Would I sticker again if I had a new bumper to do it to all over again? Inevitably, yes…but I’d go with magnets instead of stickers. Much more non-committal and ridiculously better for the resell value of the vehicle. But still not nearly as much fun, am I right?!?


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