A better bumper sticker
Liberals, believing strongly in the virtues of a secular government and the clear separation of church and state, are easily caricatured as hostile to religion—by Conservatives and by false “friends” (e.g., Joe Klein and the like).
This caricature has led to the creation and courting of the Religious Right by the GOP, with regular pandering in preparation for elections: government display of the Ten Commandments, the “war on Christmas,” homophobic positions and amendments, and the like.
It’s difficult to fight attacks of this sort without sounding defensive or even (worse) adopting the frame set by the Right, covertly accepting that Liberals are somehow anti-Christian. Barack Obama, for example, fell into that trap.
The Second Daughter suggested a superb bumper sticker that finesses all that:
Values Voter: Matthew 25: 35-40
For those, like me, whose memory of scriptural references is rusty, here is Matthew 25: 35-40 from the American Standard Version translation:
35 for I was hungry, and ye gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in;
36 naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, and fed thee? or athirst, and gave thee drink?
38 And when saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 And when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my brethren, even these least, ye did it unto me.
This bumper sticker has several excellent characteristics.
First, it is “inside out,” rather than “outside in.” That is, rather than pounding on the opposition in a (futile) effort to convince, it allows the opposition to internalize the message and ponder it—and perhaps to change a view here and there. Note that the bumper sticker has no words or labels that will trigger automatic barriers: it doesn’t say “Democrat” or “Liberal” or “GOP” or “Religious Right.”
Instead, it simply states, by reference, a set of core values: that we’re all in this together, so that our government could work to enable us to help one another, the more fortunate working together to assist the less fortunate to make a stronger country and a better union, to protect the weak from exploitation by the strong, the individual consumer and the individual employee from avaricious and uncaring corporations.
After all, by helping one another, we achieve the benefits that should come from living in a larger society. The new attitude of YOYO—”You’re on your own”—reflects living alone, not in a community.
That these happen to be, in my view, the core values of the Democratic Party is left as an exercise for the reader.
So rather than being defensive, or on the attack, the message on this bumper sticker simply invites the reader to think about the values that a “value voter” would embrace and offers no signals or signposts that would lead the reader to reject the message before considering it.
A reader from the Religious Right, who perhaps already views himself or herself as a “values voter,” will readily recognize the referenced text, and perhaps start to think about it—about the core values of Christian belief, as stated by its Founder—and perhaps begin to realize that those beliefs are not reflected in the modern-day GOP.