Opinion: Remove Political Bumper Stickers Before Christmas Dinners

Walter Rhein

Photo byImage by Walter Rhein

Division over politics has gotten so bad in the United States that it stresses family relationships. There is a longstanding axiom that you shouldn’t discuss politics or religion at dinner.

However, discussing politics goes beyond the words you speak. It also includes what you wear and the messages you place on your car and property.

After a contentious midterm election, aren’t we all ready to not think about politics for a while? Candidates spent a record amount of money on advertising in my state. The result was that every time you turned on the television you had to endure one hostile political advertisement after another.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a family gathering this Thanksgiving and not mention a single word about politics?

The problem is that some people can’t help themselves but break the rules about not discussing politics. Even if you don’t say anything about any political candidate, many people wear their political affiliations on their sleeves or their heads.

We have entered a weird period in American history where people leave the campaign signs up for losing candidates for months or years after the election. Can we agree to show enough respect to our family members to take down those signs for Thanksgiving?

You can always put them back up after the holidays.

The other thing that’s becoming an increasing area of concern is offensive bumper stickers. Many bumper stickers feature profanity. Some bumper stickers feature racial slurs.

Imagine arriving with your children at grandma’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. After you park, you have to walk by the vehicles of all the people who have already arrived. On that walk, your kids have to see racist and profane language.

Why would you go into that house and spend time with those people? I wouldn’t.

This holiday season is an opportunity for people to start showing a basic level of respect to their families once again. It’s simply not respectful to display a bunch of aggressive and hateful messages.

The election is over. The holiday season is a good opportunity to scrape off your bumper stickers, take down your yard signs, wash your favorite political shirt, and enjoy some time with your family.

We say, “Don’t discuss politics or religion with family.” However, if people decorate their yards, vehicles, and themselves with campaign propaganda, you know who they voted for. That constitutes discussing politics.

There are a lot of stories about how politics have brought friendships and family relationships to an end. If friendships and family relationships are important to you, you need to lay off the politics for a while.

Perhaps part of the problem in modern America is that it feels like it’s election season all the time. We never seem to take a break to put our differences aside and enjoy each other’s company.

You can’t drive down to the grocery store without seeing dozens of campaign signs for elections that happened two or three years ago. Every time you pull up to a stoplight you have to look at some offensive bumper sticker.

The worst part is that everywhere kids turn, they have to see profanity or racist language. The holiday season is the time we should all be focused on what we have in common. We have had too many reminders lately of our differences.

You aren’t “getting away” with something by showing up at grandma’s house dressed up in the gear of your favored political candidate. If you do that, some people might take one look at you and walk away.

Why should they respect somebody who breaks the rules about keeping family reunions civil?

The reason family relationships and friendships are being destroyed over politics is that people are discussing their politics. If you keep quiet about who you vote for, you won’t offend anyone. People in the United States of America used to understand that.

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Walter Rhein is an author with Perseid Press. He also does a weekly column for The Writing Cooperative on Medium.

Chippewa Falls, WI

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