I can't imagine hating someone so much that I'd advertise it on the bumper of my car.
Sadly, I didn't have to imagine it. All I had to do was walk by. There's a lot of that in contemporary American life: grotesqueries that grab you by the sleeve as you go about your business, or try to, and snarl out a low, wet, mean "Hi!"
Thanks pal, thanks for sharing your cramped little world with me. Proud, are you?
The car was sitting in the parking lot of a moderately upscale restaurant in Northbrook where my wife and I went for lunch. So its owner isn't suffering so much he couldn't pop twenty bucks for lunch. I noticed the bumper sticker walking back to our car. Here, I'll blow it up for you.
If the acronym's meaning doesn't immediately leap out at you, don't feel bad. It eluded Edie too; I take that as a sign of purity of spirit. When you are immersed in this stuff, as I am, a certain sixth sense emerges.
As a clue, notice the "O" contains the sunrise symbol used in Barack Obama's campaigns.
Another hint. On the left bumper of the car, almost unnecessarily, is a yellow sticker, a version of the Revolutionary War "Don't Tread on Me" flag that Tea Partiers have embraced, representing their delusion that they are fighting for freedom, and not fighting against the freedoms of their fellow Americans and against their own country's success as a whole. Trying to hold back changes which are going to steamroll them, the way way the ignorant and the fearful and the prejudiced are always steamrolled by history, sooner or later.
I've obscured the license plate, not because I worry someone would use it to track the car owner down and harass him—you just know it's a man—but, well, as as kindness. I don't anticipate the driver of the Durango will ever see this, but you never know, and I wouldn't want him to be made afraid. Or rather, more afraid. These people live on fear, clearly, and if real threats don't present themselves, they make them up. They need to justify their anger, to create villains, the way a slasher movie needs to establish the evil of its maniac before he can be subjected to the cruelties the audience is eager to enjoy.
Fear and malice are the driving factors in their lives, and I don't want to add to it, because I'm a nice guy, and don't want to be like them. "When battling monsters," as my pal Nietschze said, "make sure that you do not in the process become a monster."
Oh, GTFO stands for, "Get the Fuck Out."
Because Jan. 20, 2017, can't come around quick enough for these people. They have to cheer it along, to yearn for it, to celebrate and anticipate it. Because they have suffered ... um, oh let's come out and say it ... seeing a black man in the White House. That has to be reason because there's no possible explanation otherwise. Really, what has Barack Obama done to these folks that they would hate him so? What is the horror they're reacting to? Certainly not gun control. Or immigration reform. Just the contrary. Obama stepped up deportations, dramatically, trying to please those who would never be pleased (I assume; it certainly wasn't the right thing to do). The Affordable Care Act? It's affecting five percent of the country. Is that why there is a GTFO page online counting down the seconds? An entire line of GTFO products, bumper stickers and t-shirts and such? On a page offering t-shirts, I noticed this particular revealing design: "HOPE HE FAILS."
That's like the joke about the man drilling a hole under his seat in the row boat. I guess they don't realize that the president failing means the country failing, and them too. Which shows the difference between Obama scorn and Bush scorn, which Obama haters immediately bring up when attention is directed to their overarching hatred, as if Bush haters were suddenly their moral compass, as if the two were comparable, and they're not. This t-shirt illustrates why. People hated Bush because he was failing; people hate Obama so want him to fail. That might be a subtle difference to some, but to me seems clear and significant.
For six years, the Republican right has hurt the country, and themselves with their insane rear guard action against anything Barack Obama has done. Our nation is frozen, largely. We can't do what we need to do, what the rest of the world has done long ago. In the next two years we'll no doubt see more of that, emboldened by their electoral win earlier this month.
Me, when it comes to Obama, I vacillate. Part of the time I want to fault him for not pushing harder, for not standing up more for his ideals more, whether by closing Guantanamo Bay, coming out earlier for gay marriage, trying harder for immigration reform, crafting a more comprehensive national health care laws.
That view is based on his promises and his potential.
But he is nothing if not a politician, and given the roadblocks he's run into, you can't fault him for not sprinting faster into the brick wall.
When you hold his accomplishments up to the doorjamb-gnawing vehemence of his enemies, it's amazing he's done anything at all, from the Affordable Health Care Act, to this week's agreement with the Chinese to establish curbs on greenhouse emissions. Lack of participation of the Chinese always made international agreements trying to stem global warming somewhat pointless, as the Republicans liked to crow. Bringing them on board is hugely important in mitigating the disaster we can no longer avoid.
Of course the Republicans, who don't recognize global warming as a real, man-made phenomenon, will find a reason to hoot him down on this too—they can't claim it doesn't go far enough, since they don't recognize the problem is within our control to begin with. Maybe they'll claim he's a traitor, for working out a secret deal with the Chinese. As with "amnesty," the actual situation doesn't really matter, they just need to find the right negative term they latch onto. Maybe they'll call it "accommodation."
And no, I did not key the car with the GTFO bumper sticker. Though the thought did cross my mind. When battling monsters....