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Some of Us Are Sticking by Our Man

Sunday, February 13, 2005; Page B08

They aren't disappearing.

They are still prevalent not only in the Democratic strongholds of Reston and Fairfax but in my traditionally conservative community of Great Falls as well. Although the election was three months ago, I haven't taken mine off either.

I never sported a bumper sticker before -- not in 31 years of driving, not even for causes I strongly supported. Maybe that was because the old bumper stickers left a residue and I worried about the resale value of my car. But this sticker was fully removable and could have disappeared without a trace of glue or any evidence of my defeat.

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Still I haven't taken them off. I'm sporting the bumper stickers bow and stern, and they are as much a part of my car now as the extra lipstick I keep in the glove compartment.

What's more, a lot of other people apparently feel the same way that I do. The buttons and T-shirts may be packed away for history, but the bumper stickers are out there still, doing their job.

Dolphins use echo-location to find one another; we Kerry-Edwards supporters show our stickers. They reassure us that we are not alone and that our sturdy army is mending.

When I am in traffic, I feel a sense of community among those of us who haven't de-stickered. Would I be as patient with a sightseeing driver on Old Dominion Drive who had a "W" sticker as I am with one whose sticker matches mine? Would I yield the parking spot at Tysons as graciously? Probably, but I'd have to think about it a little longer.

As Kerry supporters, we treat one another with care as we nurture our collective recovery. We are comforted to see that there are more of us out there than one might expect, particularly in Great Falls, which has such a reputation for voting Republican that candidates of both parties often omit it from their campaign schedule.

I've asked others why they remain stickered up. Some say they want to dissociate themselves from the administration. "Don't blame me for this mess. I didn't vote for the guy," their sticker says.

For others, the sticker is an encouragement not to give up hope, a message to "hold on, midterm elections are coming."

More people than I ever imagined consider themselves Democrats -- or, at least, independent thinkers -- in my leafy suburb. The same soccer and security moms the Republicans claim for their own are perhaps too well-informed and educated to abandon medical research, women's privacy rights, civil rights protections and peace.

I enjoy smiles from strangers on the road and friendly chatter from acquaintances who never spoke to me much before I got my sticker. It gives me a kick when Republican friends at my sons' elementary school demand, "Risa, when are you going to remove those Kerry stickers? I can see your car coming a mile away!"

Apparently, my bumper stickers bother them. That's a good sign, I think.

On the road, my 10-year-old son points out Kerry stickers in a political version of the license plate game. The stickers give us a lot of chances to discuss our amazing democracy and how we can do more to affect it the next time around.

-- Risa E. Sanders


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