One would think they’d be embarrassed by now to display those Obama stickers. The Portland, Maine area, where I spend a couple of days each week, is a leftist bastion and the bumper stickers are ubiquitous. I see them while waiting at traffic lights, when I pull into a parking place at the supermarket, or wherever I go. Seldom do I see Gadsden Flags with a coiled serpent on a yellow background warning “Don’t Tread On Me,” a symbol of the Tea Party. They’re around, but are few and far between.
Never do I see a Romney/Ryan sticker. There were some on display last year at this time but after Romney’s defeat Republicans must have removed them. It’s the same with McCain/Palin stickers; they disappeared shortly after 2008. I still see an occasional Kerry/Edwards sticker on old Volvos and Subarus even though they lost too, but I never see a Bush/Cheney sticker anymore either.
Why is that? Why aren’t Republicans nostalgic for Bush, McCain or Romney? Is it because none of those men was firmly rooted in old-fashioned, conservative, pro-life, small-government Republicanism? All three were big-government types who liked flirting with liberals. None had a strong philosophical core that defined their world view and inspired loyalty. Republicans put their stickers on because they perceived each as a lesser of two evils and willingly peeled them off after election day.
Is there loyalty to Obama in all the progressive Democrats and Greens in metropolitan Portland? I’m not sure. There is for some, but for others I suspect it’s more a loyalty to their leftist world-view which Obama’s rhetoric supports, if not his actions. Going to war in Libya, and now Syria without congressional approval runs counter to leftist thinking, but aside from a few “Code Pink” protesters I saw one day, there’s very little opposition.
Beside Obama stickers, important things for Portlanders are hating Governor LePage, Opposing the Portland Pipeline Corporation, bicycling and recycling, and plovers. Locals here were absolutely horrified when a dog ate a piping plover chick on Pine Point Beach in Scarborough. What would they think about coyotes disemboweling deer? Put it out of their minds, I suppose. It dominated news for weeks and they’re literally making a federal case out of it.
Several times I’ve been asked to sign petitions to prevent the pipeline from reversing the flow of crude oil between its South Portland terminal and Montreal passing through New Hampshire and Vermont along the way. Though it has been operating safely for more than 70 years, progressives want to shut it down, which will happen when Montreal refineries get their oil from Alberta instead and don’t need crude oil from Portland anymore. They say they’re afraid of heavy crude coming down and polluting water bodies along its 236-mile route, but when I question them, it becomes clear they’re against oil in any form. They are true-believing, Prius-driving, bicycle-riding, vegetable-eating, organic people whose world-view was cast in stone during 1960s and 70s campus teach-ins. They believe only in windmills and solar panels, and nothing I say is going to change their minds. Their rural counterparts along the pipeline’s route near our home in western Maine have been out demonstrating as well.
Although I run into former students in the Portland area occasionally, hardly anybody knows me there. My column is published in newspapers with circulation only down to about Windham, Maine. It runs on a conservative web site called “As Maine Goes,” but that’s not a place Portland’s progressives tend to visit very often. When I talk to people at the beach, at parks, on the ferry, or elsewhere, they don’t know I’m really a mean-spirited conservative. I smile and let them direct the conversation, only asking questions if it veers into political territory and not stating opinions. Metropolitan Portland is an interesting laboratory in which to study the progressive mindset, and I don’t want to blow my cover.
Obama stickers are a badge of solidarity for members of Portland’s progressive tribe. They love that Obama has blocked the Keystone pipeline and they’re determined to do their part and close the pipeline here. They don’t see any connection between America’s economic fiasco and Obama Administration policies. Conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh postulates that the president’s approval numbers haven’t fallen further because he keeps campaigning instead of governing.
Obama may be in his second term, but he continues to make speeches around the country pretending he’s an outsider. He talks like he’d have it all fixed by now if not for former President Bush and conservatives in the House. They believe it’s Obama against Wall Street, rich Republicans, evil oil companies, the NRA, and all other racist, homophobic bigots like them. Things may be bad, but they’d be even worse if Obama weren’t out there campaigning, and thus they remain proud to display his name on their cars.
We’ll just have to wait and see how long that delusion persists.
Family Security Matters Contributing Editor Tom McLaughlin is a (now retired) history teacher and a regular weekly columnist for newspapers in Maine and New Hampshire. He writes about political and social issues, history, family, education and Radical Islam.