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View Diary: Cars Cause Republicanism (338 comments)

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  •  I've wondered about it (4.00)
    A lot, in fact.

    Something I've noted over the years is that people become their cars.

    Behind the wheel, you are transformed into a deadly metal demigod, capable of striking dead anything that offends you sufficiently.

    There is literally nothing that has ever breathed air on this planet that could not be mortally wounded by a Yugo going 60 miles per hour. Not a lion, an elephant, or a whale...though I suppose some dinosaurs could take a Yugo hit. But not one from a Suburban.

    Which segues to the other point: Not only do cars encourage a sense of violent discretion, of deadly empowerment, cars have been designed to cater to this need.

    Marketing research has found that people most certainly do not drive SUVs for the safety. You market an SUV for safety, and your profits die. You market an SUV for power and a sense of control, watch your stock split, and split and split.

    Which has turned the American highway into an arms race...and a war zone.

    I remain amazed at the chances people that people take, casually and even gleefully, with other people's lives. It never occurs to them that Death can reach them inside their thin aluminum carapaces, which aren't so invulnerable after all.

    I suppose that is why the IED phenomena in Iraq is so viscerally terrifying to the home audience. The very idea that some...non-vehicle can do in a heavily-armored tank really spooks folks.

    I mean, if your commercialized Humvee can't keep you save, then what?

    I mean, really. There needs to be something even bigger and more terrifying out there, so I can keep the fuel-efficient car-driving peasants in their places. :)

    Never let being humane get in the way of being human. And vice-versa.

    by cskendrick on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 03:47:08 AM PST

    •  Great comment (4.00)
      I'd give you comment a ten if I could.  In particular, this hits the nail on the head:

      "Which has turned the American highway into an arms race...and a war zone."

      Car driving in the 70s and 80s was completely different than it is today.  (and I was only a passenger, LOL.) Granted there were less cars on the road, but you just couldn't drive those cars as fast as you can drive a car today.  

      I remember the green Duster my parents go much above 55 and the thing would vibrate, rattle and shake.  Cars today can go high speed and still give a smooth ride.  It takes away the perception that there is any danger to the speed you are going.

      And with Air Bags and ABS, folks are given more false sense of security.

      So aAmericans have learned to put the pedal to the metal, and god forbid any 'moron' slows down your pace.  We keeep being told time is money, LOL.

      We all need to slow the hell down....myself included!

      •  Defeating SUVs (4.00)
        I am very green and left and own a car, but almost never venture out of my small city in it. The modest scale of my vehicle makes me fear highway combat with vehicles two or three times the weight, so I take the bus, bigger and faster still: safer AND greener.

        There are settings, especially in the United States, where car ownership is necessary to survival so cars don't cause Republicans 100% of the time. Luckily. But I am willing to bet that the correlation between SUVs and Republican voting is extremely high and not just because of greater wealth. Being a Republican means having no concience whatever, if torture is OK, owning an anti-social vehicle is a moral piece of cake.

        •  I own one too. (4.00)
          And like you, I prefer to stay in slower speed zones and find the urban and suburban freeways to feel liek some kind of intense video-game. Although I have no discomfort with driving at high speed (over 60), I now feel safe doing so on isolated country roads where there is nobody else doing so. Even on city streets, I feel safer on my bicycle because it is less likely, though not unheard of, that a driver will view me as "the competition".

          On a different note:
          We were just in the Bay Area for Christmas and I am grateful that my companion did all the driving because people in CA drive even more nuts than they do here. We were tailgated, honked at and nearly driven off the road by people who were statistically not likely to be Republicans or even conservative Democrats. Perhaps they were liberals of the sort who emphasize privacy and personal freedom rather than community and social responsibility? Last summer in Toronto, I was stunned that the even the heaviest traffic parted like the Red Sea to let me in when I used my directional signal. Here in the USA, whether it's Milwaukee, Chicago, Berkeley or Vallejo, no such thing is likely to happen.

      •  In lieu of a 10 rating (4.00)
        I will gladly accepted 2.5 4's...rounded up, of course. :)

        Never let being humane get in the way of being human. And vice-versa.

        by cskendrick on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 07:15:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I have often thought (4.00)
        that if we want safer drivers we should replace the steering wheel airbag with a large metal spike.
    •  people will do things in their car (4.00)
      that they would never do under any other circumstances.  As a long time bicycle rider, I've had plenty of occasion to observe this fact.  I've never really been able to understand it, because clearly a lot of people that behave in an antisocal or even criminal way while in their cars would never do anything like that away from a car.

      I know it doesn't have this effect on all of us, and that may be why this idea goes right over the head of some people here.

      •  On my way in to work (4.00)
        There's a place where I-85S curls into I-77S; it's a tight two-lane-turns-to-one-lane merge that then merges into high speed traffic.

        I was in the outside lane, just off the back left corner of an 18-wheeler, hoping to get the traffic ahead of me to thin out -- and do everybody behind me a favor, but mostly myself.

        Somebody in a Camry rushes up then swerves to right behind the semi-tractor trailer just when I was looking to move in on my own account.

        They then proceed to do their utmost to run me off the road, and are so willing to block me out they almost send both of us crashing into the back of the truck.

        We are probably at one point half a foot away from sideswiping one another while going at a significant velocity.

        I make a conscious decision to let go of my hate, and live to hate effing idiots another day.

        As I back off, I pull up behind the car and clap with both hands.

        Car in question slams on brakes; they are truly in a mood to make war.

        I veer over and off, and watch as the car from hell continues to tailgate right behind the tractor-trailer.

        Perhaps they were low on gas, and needed to draft.

        Either that or having risked so much for such a dangerous piece of turf, they were unwilling to part ways with it, even if it killed them.

        What you said. :)

        Never let being humane get in the way of being human. And vice-versa.

        by cskendrick on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 06:25:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I do believe (none)
          I have driven, heart in mouth, over that very same bit of road.

          I'm always amazed, horrified even, at the idiots who will tail-gate an 18-wheeler. Those stickers on the back that say "If I Can't See You in My Mirrors I Don't Know You're There" are not on the truck as decorations. Sometimes, on open highway, I'll slipstream behind an 18-wheeler, but always with the mirrors in sight.

          The degree to which you resist injustice is the degree to which you are free. -- Utah Phillips

          by Mnemosyne on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 09:37:27 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I sometimes pick my nose in my car (none)
        I do not pick my nose on buses, trains or while riding my bike. Much better than nose picking, I've had sex in cars (yes, of a sort even while driving), but never in a bus or a train ... or certainly not on a bike. I have seen people in cars intentionally ram other cars, something professional drivers in buses are not likely to do and only a suicidal cyclist would do. I, personally, am much more alert while cycling than driving.
      •  aoeu (none)
        people get a sense of annonymity behind the wheel, it's similar to what happens on the web except that the potential for damage is much greater.
        •  You beat me to it (none)
          Cars: the original internet.  Which raises the question "does internet use cause one to become a psychotic libertarian?".  Having observed the online world since the early 90s I can say there's a definite correlation here too.  Of course, as we all know both the rise of internet and suburban/automotive libertarianism is due to the single root cause mentioned by the other poster in this thread - loss of pirates :)

          Then did he raise on high the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, saying, "Bless this, O Lord, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy."

          by Event Horizon on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 07:47:54 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Cadillac in particular (none)
      Some car makers advertising even seems to encourage agressive behavior... Cadillac, to cite an example, has some recent advertising that seems to encourage its drivers to run other drivers off the road.  I'm referring to one where a number of BMWs are driving around a dance floor, when a Cadillac comes barreling in and runs them all off.

      This kind of attitude, plus GM's decision (with Ford in competition) to specialize in gas guzzlers at a time of rising fuel prices and shrinking supply, makes it hard for me to feel too much sympathy for their current economic difficulties (I do for their workers, but not for their corporate attitude).

      •  Re: Ford (none)
        Though it should be noted that Ford is coming into the hybrid and fuel efficiency market as well (and not just with hybrid SUV's either as I recall that the Fusion will have a hybrid version coming out next year).

        "All Politics is Local" - former Speaker of the House Tip O'Neil

        by Mister Gloom on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 03:56:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

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