Since I live in Eugene, Oregon, my morning commute offers some entertaining, pithy reading. So I started to wonder what bumper stickers must have been like through history.
After doing a little research, I discovered progressives have been devaluing their means of transportation for thousands of years! Although many have resurfaced over the years with the same banal message, I have collected the top ten below for your enlightenment. I’m sure you’ll learn, as they did in the past, not to follow the horse too closely.
Boston, Massachusetts, 1773
In spite of the crippling taxes and the tyrannical monopoly of the British Parliament’s Tea Act, there were still people in the colonies who thought the British government had the colony’s best interests at heart. In response to the popularity of this bumper sticker, a few renegades did, in fact, turn the Boston Harbor into a giant cup of tea.
The invention of armor-piercing weaponry was highly controversial during the Hundred Years’ War. In point of fact, the French did not like it one bit. In the Battle of Poitiers, French knights plastered these bumper stickers on the backs of their suits of armor in a show of solidarity against the English longbow. The English bowmen responded by turning them into cheese graters.
Western Xia Dynasty, 1226
In his first war against the Xia Dynasty, Genghis Khan correctly surmised that the bordering Jin Dynasty wouldn’t come to its neighbor’s aid. One could find these stickers on the backs of many who refused to fight in a foreign war against an invading force. They refused to go, so naturally Genghis Khan eventually came to them.
Soviet Union, 1920
Joseph Jughashvili wasn’t rising in politics fast enough. He needed a catchy but humble name people could rally behind. Ultimately settling on “Man of Steel,” a.k.a. “Stalin,” he quickly rose through the ranks of the Bolsheviks. He promised steely strength all to his supporters, and they loved him for it. The message went on to gain a whole new meaning for former supporters in the Siberian gulags, since they couldn’t feel much else.
Region of Modern-Day Spain, 1.2 million BP (Before Present)
According to radiocarbon dating, some of the earliest progressives can be found during the Pleistocene Epoch. The discovery of fire also brought with it the first arguments about energy and its effects on the environment. While most people just wanted to cook their mammoth, Pleistocene progressives were concerned that burning solid fuels was contributing to the end of the Ice Age.
Galileo could be considered the Bill Nye the Science Guy of his era, with the exception that Galileo was scientifically accurate. Galileo’s trial and imprisonment for writing that the Earth orbited the sun caused many supporters to adorn their carriages with this effusive sticker. Regaining popularity during the Enlightenment, this sticker furthered the misconception that Christianity is against science, in spite of the church’s prolific array of schools, universities, and hospitals, and sponsorship of research in physics, mineralogy, chemistry, anatomy, bacteriology, genetics, geometry, and atomic theory.
Canaan, 1200 BCE
This was by far one of the most popular, enduring, and inane bumper stickers in Mesopotamia. You would frequently see it on the backs of chariots, horses, and ox-drawn carts—usually run by those who either didn’t follow a faith or have a particularly good grasp on the tenets of each religion. Assyrians particularly took great pleasure in positioning these stickers on the same pikes as their enemy’s heads.
Rome, 54 AD
Although many have argued Nero was not a progressive, it’s dubious if he stood for the alternative. Arrogant, insecure, affluent, and pathetic, Nero repeated the same message ad nauseum without really specifying exactly how he would return Rome to the days of glory. This did not squelch his supporters’ enthusiasm as long as there was a show to enjoy. While his plans to keep the Christians out with a wall never panned out, he evenually just set Rome on fire and blamed it on them.
Concerned about colonization, anti-imperialist progressives gave these stickers out in a grassroots movement to prevent Columbus from obtaining royal financing for his voyages. While the campaign effectively torpedoed his fundraising efforts in Portugal, his eventual success in Spain ensured that the voyage to the New World would, in fact, happen.
Even as millions of people were dying from the Black Death, progressives were trying to raise awareness for the value of rat life. One of the more successful organizations, PTRG (People for Treating Rats Good), sold these bumper stickers to raise awareness before ultimately losing most of its members. Later, in an effort to be ironic, these stickers were affixed to death carts, proving that even hipsters have been around forever.
Honorable Mention: Salem, Massachusetts, 1692
Despite its initial popularity, this bumper sticker was quickly discontinued.