Peel your politics or risk a sticker shock

Quick — hold your breath, grit your teeth and peel it off already. It may sting a little, but not for long.

No, I’m not talking Band-Aids. And no, your Nov. 4 wounds may not be quite healed. Still, maybe it’s time for a clean sweep of the car bumper. It’s been a week since we all woke up with ­election-results hangovers. It’s time.

Did you read Monday’s Herald? According to an Associated Press article from Bellingham, 16 cars with Obama or Obama-Biden stickers were vandalized Thursday, and some had “W” scratched on the doors. Fifteen of the cars damaged at Western Washington University had punctured tires, campus police said.

In this case, it’s likely the culprit or culprits would have ignored cars with those oval “W’ 04” stickers.

Whatever your political stripe in 2008, you can find it online, from “Thank You, President Bush” coffee mugs ($10.95) and “Read My Lipstick Vote McCain-Palin” buttons ($1.75) to a 50-pack of “Obama Biden Hope &Change in 2008” bumper stickers ($135). By the way, stickers from President Bush’s successful 2004 race against Sen. John Kerry are still available at

It’s all wonderfully collectible. Stash them away to show the grandchildren someday, that’s my preference for where all these buttons, stickers and signs belong.

After an election, it’s all memorabilia, right?

Nope, not anymore. I don’t remember folks driving around for years with Hubert Humphrey or George McGovern stickers after Richard Nixon won the 1968 and 1972 presidential races, just as nobody left a Nixon sticker on a car after John F. Kennedy was elected president in 1960.

The 1960s were infamously turbulent times, but today many people seem more willing than in the past to let divisions show. It’s a bipartisan phenomenon.

One neighbor of mine had a Howard Dean sticker on a car for years after the Vermont ­Democrat was knocked out of the 2004 presidential primaries. A family across the street kept a Dino Rossi sticker on a car long after the bitter 2004 race that put Democrat Chris Gregoire in the governor’s mansion and left Republican Rossi planning his unsuccessful 2008 rematch.

Sure, we’re all free to proudly display our preferences for any candidates, past, present and future — although having just survived election season, current candidates are in short supply.

“That’s the great thing about our country. We’re all welcome to our ideas,” said John Mills, owner of Sunrise Auto Detail in Marysville.

“In all honesty, sometimes it may be better not to throw it out there so loosely,” Mills said when I told him about the damaged cars. “You can run into issues like that. People are passionate about their political stance, and some are real narrow-minded.”

I called Mills to find out the best way to peel off stickers. As a professional detailer, he uses a pressure washer with a built-in heater. It gets water to about 190 degrees, which helps remove adhesive.

If you’re peeling it off yourself, Mills suggested blasting the sticker with a hair dryer before removal. To get rid of adhesive, he said auto supply stores carry tar and adhesive remover. “Scrub lightly, you don’t want to scar the paint,” Mills said. The longer a sticker is on, the harder it is to get off. “Longer than a year, it will come off in pieces,” he said.

Road warriors have their stickers. On the home front are yard signs.

Cities put limits on how long political signs can be left along roadsides. But on private property, unless signs cause traffic or other safety problems, people are free to air political views on placards whether it’s campaign season or not, said Snohomish city manager Larry Bauman.

In Snohomish, the code calls for removal of signs on public property within 10 days of an election; Everett’s municipal code allows signs to stay up 15 days after the vote.

“We don’t make a concerted effort to go and sweep the community. After two or three weeks, in the course of doing maintenance, if we find these in our rights of way we have our crews pick them up,” Bauman said. Most local campaigns are good about removing signs in a timely way, he said.

Even so, the politics of 2008 will be neither out of sight nor out of mind for months — maybe years — to come. “Some like to celebrate their success — and grieve their losses,” Bauman said.

True, but it’s time. Quick, peel it off. Doesn’t that feel better?

Columnist Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460 or

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