I’ve seen the above bumper sticker many times in the church parking lot, but it didn’t spur the below blog idea until I saw the same bumper sticker on a car this morning while driving between Sherwin Williams stores to find the store that had the type of stain I needed to prepare the front steps before winter.
The idea — see how many of the reporter’s key questions I could apply to the slogan to find out what it is really saying. So here goes:
Who? — Democrats. Does this mean only Democrats? Are Democrats the only ones who support the public good, or are they just one of many groups that support the public good?
What? — The Public Good. What is the public good? Are Democrats the only ones who know what the public good is? Is the public good whatever Democrats say that it is? How do Democrats know what the public good is?
When? — Verb is present tense. So now, ongoing. Does this mean always? Or do they support some of the public good but not all the public good? Or do they support all the public good, just not all the time?
Where? — Doesn’t say. Shall I deduce since the Democratic Party is a U.S. political party that we can say this is for the USA, or do they support the public good all around the world?
Why? — Unanswered. The statement gives no clue to motivation. Are we to assume that this is a totally altruistic motive? Do they support it out of enlightened self interest? Because it gives them political power?
How? — This is the question my mind answered first when I saw the bumper sticker this morning: with other people’s money. They are quite blatant on this point actually. The rich need to “pay their fair share.” No appeal to charity. I’ll admit that answer isn’t in the bumper sticker, but in other things they’ve said in the recent campaign.
The above exercise shows how a simple, innocuous, feel-good phrase can be totally empty of any actual content. It doesn’t really say anything, or if it does, it probably doesn’t say what people’s good feelings want it to say.