Wearing your allegiance on your sleeve — or on your Facebook page, anyway

Right after the election, I noticed a Nikki Haley bumper sticker, and it struck me that I hadn’t seen a whole lot of those during the election, which caused me to Tweet:

Ever notice how you see more bumper stickers for a candidate AFTER he/she wins than you did before Election Day? I do…

It may be purely a perception flaw on my part, but after a number of elections I have strongly suspected a belated “bandwagon” effect accounting for the number of fresh, unfrayed, clean bumper stickers that I see for the new officeholder even a year or more after the election.

It’s probably a little of both. But that means the bandwagon effect is to some extent at play. And that, to me, is one of the oddest things about human nature. I just don’t understand the bandwagon effect in politics. Either you like a candidate or you don’t. Either you believe in a cause or you don’t. What sort of weak-willed person adjusts his judgments according to what’s more popular? But we all know it happens. It’s one reason why campaigns stress polls that show their side winning; it tends to contribute to a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I can sort of see it working with sports. After all, I ignored the Braves for years until their worst-to-first performance in 1991, after which I couldn’t get enough of them for several years. But that’s about the fact that it’s more enjoyable to watch someone play baseball WELL than to watch them play badly. And I’m very much a September/October kind of baseball fan, because that’s when you see the best, most exciting play.

But choosing whom you’ll support on the basis of who you think will win, or even worse, someone who has already won? That’s either contemptible, or just plain weird.

But anyway, I didn’t think any more about the bumper stickers until I saw this Tweet today from Nettie Britts:

If you still have a Sheheen avatar you really need to change that.

Really, I thought… how come? And why Sheheen specifically? I asked that, and Logan Stewart jumped in with:

lbstewart Logan Stewart

@BradWarthen @nettie_b the day after he lost election, I made my FB profile pic one of @vincentsheheen & me b/c I’m proud of his work in SC

I guess she was talking about this.

Nettie responded:

@BradWarthen @lbstewart I think it looks silly to still have campaign stuff up. You don’t need to communicate message anymore.

This seemed sensible enough. It’s sort of what I think when I see those bumper stickers. Nevertheless, I was inspired to go put up a picture with Sheheen in it on the blog — I put it on the page you get when you use the search function.

Because Lord knows, we’re going to see a lot of pictures of Nikki Haley — the choice of just 51 percent of SC voters — over the next few years. Bumper stickers, too. Just watch.

So what’s the harm in having something up for the rest of us?

12 thoughts on “Wearing your allegiance on your sleeve — or on your Facebook page, anyway

  1. Phillip

    There was a house on a corner in Shandon, fairly close to Rosewood, which I am pretty sure I drove by nearly every day, who had one of the few Haley signs in the neighborhood…the day after the election they put up at least 15 more signs all over their yard. Nice touch, huh?

  2. Kathryn "Blue" Fenner

    Everybody loves a winner.

    Is it possible that, gasp, Haley didn’t get around to ordering all the signs and stickers until after the deadline and any extension time, so they didn’t arrive until after the election?

  3. Shannon aka Scout

    Oh, I don’t know if you don’t need to communicate a message anymore. Maybe you don’t need to communicate the same message for the same purpose – i.e. winning the election now past…but the message that I believed in Sheheen’s candidacy and what he stood for is still important…to me anyway. I kept “I’m on team Sheheen” as my facebook profile for a little while – then I changed it to a grumpy face. harumph.

  4. Ralph Hightower

    I don’t Facebook. But I added an interlocking SC twibbon to my twitter avator after USC won the NCAA 2010 National Baseball Championship.

    Recently, I added a NASA twibbon to my avator: @ralphhightower

    I wrote a countdown program to January 12, 2011 for when we get a new governor.

    This was before Nikki Haley won the primary. I’ve updated the application to include January 14, 2015.

    But I have an idea for a bumper sticker design that is nonpartisan, but promoting responsible leadership. I never did carry through with the 2011 bumper sticker. There’s 2015.

  5. Barry

    I kept my Sheheen profile picture on my Facebook page for 4 days after the election.

    I was proud of him and didn’t want to take it down.

    I didn’t want anyone that I knew thinking I had voted for Haley (which probably caused some of my friends to ignore me for a few days)

  6. Blake Hawkins

    Ironically though you could say the same thing about Obama stickers. They came out of the woodwork after he won the election. I am a very Liberal Republican but this is a very one sided argument. This could be so easily compared to the argument with a democrat. Sorry I just don’t see this story holding any water. Disagree with me cause I figure you will. This is just my personal opinion. Just like you are titled to yours I am intitled to man. Hopefully compromise will come down the road at some point.

  7. Brad

    Blake, there’s nothing ironic about it, and there’s nothing to disagree with…

    That’s what I was saying — bumper stickers for winning candidates (Obama, Haley, whoever) seem to crop up out of nowhere AFTER the election.

    And I think that’s very weird.

    Back to Scout’s comment…

    There’s a great value in continuing to show, outwardly, your allegiance to a losing candidate. Winning candidates should be reminded as often as possible of how many people did NOT vote for them, so that they can try to be worthy of those voters’ trust as well.

    This is particularly true when the margin is as narrow as the Haley-Sheheen margin was. But I think it’s also important when a candidate wins 60-40, or more. Knowing that even 40 percent of the people — which is a lot of folks — voted against you should be humbling, and should lead one to try harder to be worthy of everyone’s support.

    Unfortunately, it too seldom works that way. People win elections with one vote over 50 percent, and act as though they were elected not only by acclamation, but by divine right. This is an unfortunate facet of our increasing polarization. Since the parties are all about winning the election, and they think that’s the end all and be all, when they do win, they try to govern as though the losing side doesn’t exist — which, among other things, is a recipe for failure.

  8. Kathryn "Blue" Fenner

    or maybe they’re taking a page from Cindi, and saying “I support the winner of the election as leader of us all, and I wish him or her much success.”

  9. Logan Stewart

    Thanks Brad. I will always be proud to have a photo of and/or support any candidate whose policies and ideas I believe in, regardless of whether or not they win an election. That doesn’t diminish their importance or their accomplishments.

  10. Phillip

    Ralph’s comment about adding the USC logo after the baseball championship made me think about that triumphalist Haley supporter in Shandon anew…maybe to them it was just like putting up Gamecocks signs to celebrate a big championship win…

    …after all it does seem like politics and governance is treated more and more in this country like sports, with far more coverage of the “horse race” aspect (who’s up, who’s down, who’s closing, who’s fading) than the nitty-gritty of policy. Many Americans adhere to their “side” with the blind loyalty shown to “their” sports teams. Consequently the teams, I mean political parties, conduct themselves primarily in ways designed to “win,” not to advance governance. (Watch carefully the reactions to the Simpson-Bowles debt reduction plan carefully, as each party tries to establish its “field position” in opposition.)

    As bad as this phenomenon has become in domestic policy, the real potential disaster for the United States has been the application of a sports-mindset to foreign, defense, and security policy.

    One of the great appeals about being a sports fan is that things are cut-and-dried, unlike life. There is a winner, and a loser. There is a final score. The real world is not like that, but when policy is conducted as though there were only winners and losers, us and them, No. 1 and then the poor other saps of the world, then we start making dumb choices that end up hollowing out our true innate national strengths.

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