God Bless Naive Fools

What do you think of Obama NowFor about three and a half years, I’ve really hated the bumper sticker on the left. There are a lot of reasons. The first was that I saw it within a week of his taking office. Clearly, people were putting “So how do you like Obama now?” on their bumpers because you just couldn’t fit, “I’m an asshole who doesn’t like Obama so I’m going to pretend that everyone thinks the way I do and further that I was smart to see before you what you don’t see now but I’m assuming you do.”

Things were certainly as bad for Bill Clinton as they have been for President Obama. What is different is that when Obama was inaugurated, conservatives didn’t even pretend to give him a chance. It’s like Fox News, which reports every winter snow storm as, “Where’s the global warming, liberals?” In February 2009—February!—people were saying, “The economy sucks, I guess Obama isn’t the miracle worker he claimed to be!”

After a year, the criticism of Obama calmed to what we have come to expect of conservatives. It was at this point that my hatred of this bumper sticker entered a new stage. I could honestly answer the question, “Not that much, but for actual policy reasons that you would make you love Obama if only he were a Republican.” I hated how the bumper sticker implied that the owner knew my original feelings about Obama, which were complicated to say the least; I supported him but I didn’t expect all the much (I was still disappointed). Even more enraging was the idea that if I were unhappy with Obama it was for the same reasons they were unhappy with him. The problem is, I could never figure out why they were unhappy with him, except of course, that he was a Democrat. Go team!

Quite recently, I’ve seen these bumper stickers in a new light—my third stage. I didn’t know many people who were Obama true believers; I run with a cynical crowd. As a result, I hadn’t thought about these people who believed those campaign speeches about hope and change. But I should have. People who can think of the future in terms of hope and change should be honored. They are the best of what we are.[1]

And the bumper sticker’s rhetorical question is offensive. It scoffs at these people. It says, “You are a bunch of naive fools!” But if our culture is to have any hope, we need all the naive fools we can get.[2]

[1] That’s a reference to Bruce Cockburn’s great Nicaragua:

[2] I don’t claim to be anything but a cynic. But I’m smart enough to know that change is needed and that we won’t get it from people like me who don’t believe it’s possible. This is my idea of a bumper sticker: Fuck America!

This entry was posted in Politics by Frank Moraes. Bookmark the permalink.

About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

5 thoughts on “God Bless Naive Fools

  1. Amidst the hopelessnes, I want to believe there is still hope. I don’t call it naive because I’m pretty sure we’re screwed. Hope and naivete are two different things.

  2. @Morwalk. Yes. I was using "naive fools" from the conservatives and using it as a badge of honor. These are good people. As I said: the best of what we are.

  3. As one of the hopefuls, I like to think that great change is possible, despite how difficult it seems to accomplish. I must admit, however, that my hopefulness is ever eroding as things look ever bleaker. It looks more and more to me as if our society is unalterably devolving into something that resembles some dystopian science fiction novel.

    By the way, have you ever considered marketing that bumper sticker? I’d love to buy one. :)

  4. @Mack – I try to remember that I never imagined the USSR falling before it did. But I agree with you: a lot of the modern world seems a lot like a William Gibson novel. Or at least that seems to be what a lot of conservatives seem to want–not that it is all bad.

    Do you mean the "Fuck America!" bumper sticker? If so, yeah, I’ve thought about it. The problem is that I’m no kind of businessman.

Leave a Reply